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Smart, Safe & Sober Newsletter - Winter 2011


Officer Seat Belt Use

Seatbelts tangle up Kansas City police officers over safety and security

When a suspected drunken driver ran a stop sign and slammed into the side of a Kansas City patrol car in December, an officer got knocked unconscious.

Video from the patrol car’s interior revealed that the officer’s head likely knocked against his partner’s. Neither officer wore a seatbelt.

The wreck — one of several that recently injured unrestrained officers — has forced Kansas City police commanders to face one of the department’s worst-kept secrets: Some officers don’t buckle up while on duty.

It’s against state law. It’s against department policy. Yet some officers simply refuse. They don’t want their gun to get tangled up in the seatbelt.

Police Chief Jim Corwin doesn’t buy that excuse.

“Of all the people in the world, we should be the first ones to understand that seatbelts do save lives,” he said.

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NHTSA Study: Police officers often shun their seat belts

Officers were not wearing seat belts in 42 percent of fatal police crashes in the past three decades, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Police officers who don't buckle up say they might need to jump out of their cars to arrest someone or to stop a shooter, and the belt could slow their response. Or worse, the myriad equipment on their gun belt could snag and they would become trapped.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study released in January in part examined 733 crashes between 1980 and 2008 in which police officers were killed on duty in a patrol car. In 45 percent of the crashes, officers were wearing seat belts - slightly more than the 42 percent who weren't.

"We knew it was high, but I didn't realize it was that high," said Mary Ann Rayment, the occupant protection coordinator for the Virginia Highway Safety Office.

In crashes between 1990 and 1999, 56 percent of officers who were killed used a seat belt. But that dropped to 50 percent in the fatal crashes between 2000 and 2008.

Rayment tries to persuade police officers to buckle up. Their risk of a crash, she said, is far greater than getting tangled in a seat belt.

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2011 General Assembly Update

The 2011 Virginia General Assembly session is fast coming to a close, with adjournment scheduled for February 26. The reconvened session will be held April 6, when the legislators will address the Governor’s vetoes and proposed amendments. While state budget funding for transportation and roads has been a primary focus of the session, legislators also introduced a large slate of traffic safety and motor vehicle bills for consideration.

The summary below is organized by subject matter and reports the latest actions by the General Assembly. Although the vast majority of the bills failed either in committee or in the opposing house, they are included to give a complete report on the issues considered by the legislature. The bills are hyperlinked to the Virginia Legislative Information website where you can check the history and latest action on each of the bills.

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2010 LEC Workshops Conducted in January

More than 100 LE officers, civilian employees and agency volunteers attended one of the seven Law Enforcement Challenge workshops conducted in January by the VACP and the Va. Highway Safety Office. Attendees were given advice on not only how to put together an entry in the LEC awards program, but how to put together an effective highway safety program in their agencies. Read more about the workshops and the Challenge program here

Nominations Sought for 2011 GTSAs

The Governor’s Transportation Safety Awards recognize individuals and organizations who have made contributions to transportation safety in Virginia. The awards are open to any person or organization who performs an outstanding transportation safety activity or program during the previous calendar year. Click here for more information (PDF)

Entries must be postmarked by February 25, 2011.

Wythe County Deputy Honored by MADD National

Congratulations to Deputy Chris Coleman who was recognized September 25, 2010 with the MADD National President's Award for Outstanding Individual Law Enforcement Achievement! Read more about his story

MADD Virginia also recognized a number of Virginia LE officers in 2010... read more in MADD VA's January 2011 Newsletter (PDF)

More Agency Highlights...

Fairfax County PD
Fredericksburg PD
Leesburg PD
Roanoke PD
Vienna PD
Warren Co. Sheriff's Office

St. Patrick's Day Impaired Driving Campaign

The campaign dates are March 8-17, 2011... planners are available online now!

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month!

Campaign materials are ready! Click here for more information on the campaign and to order your materials from DRIVE SMART® Virginia.

Additional materials and information are also available at


Upcoming Trainings & Conferences

Advanced DUI Training for Investigators and Prosecutors (FREE!)
2/23 – 2/25 • Williamsburg
8/24 – 8/26 • Blacksburg

25th Annual ABC College Conference
2/25 – 2/27 • Fairfax

Fundamentals of Crash Investigation and Reconstruction
3/14 – 3/25 • Newport News
6/13 – 6/24 • Ashburn
7/18 – 7/29 • Draper

Motorcycle Safety and Enforcement Training Course
3/15 • Fredericksburg

Motorcycle Safety and Enforcement – "Train-The-Trainer" Course
3/15 – 3/16 • Fredericksburg

Lifesavers Conference
3/27 – 3/29 • Phoenix, AZ

2011 Southeast Virginia Motor Carrier Management & Safety Conference
3/30 • Norfolk

DUID Training, presented by the Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council (CASC) (FREE!)
4/6 • Fredericksburg
4/15 • Martinsville
5/20 • Charlottesville
6/9 • Portsmouth

Motorcycle Crash Investigation and Reconstruction
4/11 – 4/15 • Fredericksburg
8/22 – 8/26 • Lynchburg

Human Factors in Crash Investigation
4/28 – 4/29 • Ashburn
5/12 – 5/13 • Newport News

Advanced Crash Investigation and Reconstruction
5/2 – 5/6 • Henrico

Annual NHTSA Region 3 Law Enforcement Summit
6/21 – 6/23 • Louisville, KY

2011 Smart, Safe & Sober Calendars Available!

The 2011 Smart, Safe & Sober Calendars were mailed in December, but if you didn't receive a calendar and want one – or would like additional calendars for your agency – we have more!

Please contact your local DMV Program Manager or LEL, or Erin Schrad at the VACP and we'll get them to you!

Transportation Safety Grant Applications Due March 15!

Submissions Accepted Through DMV Website

The Virginia Highway Safety Office (VAHSO) is accepting applications to support programs throughout Virginia that strive to reduce traffic deaths and injuries. Programs receiving grant funds work toward increasing safety belt usage; deterring drunk driving, speeding and distracted driving; and promoting motorcycle, pedestrian, bike, teen and senior driver safety.

The funding period for approved applications is October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012. Applicants selected for the program participate on a cost reimbursement basis.


Click It or Ticket is fast approaching! The dates you want to remember are:
  • May 1-13: Seat belt use PRE-surveys conducted
  • May 13: Seat belt use PRE-surveys DUE
  • May 15: Earned media begins
  • May 22-June 5: High-visibility enforcement wave
  • June 6-10: Seat belt use POST-surveys conducted
  • June 10: Seat belt use POST-surveys DUE
  • June 17: Department wide summons data DUE
All the forms you will need are online at and all the materials you will need are available at

WRAP Honors Eleven DC-Area LE Officers for Efforts to Combat Drunk Driving

Eleven Washington-metropolitan area police officers were cited for their “outstanding commitment in the fight against drunk driving in Greater Washington” on December 17, 2010 and presented with the area’s 13th-annual “Law Enforcement Awards of Excellence for Impaired Driving Prevention.”

Presented at a regional ceremony held in McLean, Virginia, the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) presented its 2010 Law Enforcement Awards to:

■ Alexandria Police Officer Greg Holden
■ Arlington Co. Police Officer Avery Carroll
■ Fairfax Co. Police PFC Joseph Woloszyn
■ Loudoun Co. Sheriff’s Deputy Specialist Katie Baldwin
■ Metropolitan Police Reserve Sergeant Alexander Pope
■ Prince William Co. Police Officer Jeremy A. Schenck
■ Virginia State Trooper Michael S. Middleton...

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Saved by the Belt Awards

The Saved by the Belt & Bag Program is open to any law enforcement agency. Nominations for individuals who were involved in traffic crashes and were wearing safety restraint devices are being accepted on a continual basis. There is no cost to the nominating agency – all recognition materials are provided by the Virginia Highway Safety Office.

More than 70 individuals were recognized in 2010 for making the life-saving decision to buckle up. Here are the stories of ten more individuals, nominated by the Ashland PD, Chesterfield County PD, Chesapeake PD, Hanover County Sheriff's Office and Harrisonburg Police Department.

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2010 Hanna Awards

2010 John T. Hanna Awards

The Annual John T. Hanna Awards, presented by Drive Safe Hampton Roads, recognized eleven local individuals and organizations for outstanding performance in the area of traffic safety. The 2010 recipients included police officers, a cab company, a designated driver service, a driver’s education teacher, and several other outstanding individuals from the area.

The awards were presented on December 7, 2010 at 12:00pm during a luncheon held at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #8 in Virginia Beach.

John T. Hanna, the namesake of the awards, is widely known in the Commonwealth for his years of service dedicated to improving traffic safety in Virginia. Hanna served as the Deputy Commissioner for Transportation Safety at the state Department of Motor Vehicles and worked in the traffic safety field for more than 60 years.

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Copyright © 2011 Virginia's Smart, Safe & Sober Partnership (c/o Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police), All rights reserved.

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