LOS ANGELES (AP) — If you’ve ever been pulled over by a police officer for not wearing a seat belt, there’s a decent chance the officer also wasn’t buckled up either.
While 86 percent of Americans now wear seat belts, an upcoming study that will be published by California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training estimates that roughly half of law enforcement officers don’t wear them.
With traffic-related fatalities the leading cause of death of officers on duty, departments nationwide are buckling down to get officers to buckle up.
“Something that can save a person’s life should be on a high priority of being enforced,” said Richard Ashton, a former police chief who has studied officer safety for more than a decade with the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
The Los Angeles Police Department has a new seatbelt education effort after Inspector General Alex Bustamante found that up to 37 percent of officers involved in accidents in 2012 weren’t wearing seatbelts.
State laws mandating seatbelt use often exclude police, but the LAPD and most other departments require them in all but certain circumstances.
The costs of not doing so are clear.