Click It Or Ticket campaign begins this week
By David Lichtenstein
Over a year ago I was stopped by two patrol cars in Kaunakakai for driving without wearing my seat belt.
I was only traveling about 20 mph on my way to Rawlins Gas Station, yet I was still ticketed $92 for the violation. I found the ticket petty and unnecessary at the time and swore various epithets (under my breath) to describe what a waste of time this was for law enforcement.
Then came March 29, 2010. It was a little after 11 p.m. when I was woken by the sound of screeching tires and a loud impact. Scott Furtado, 24, was driving westbound on Kamehameha V Highway when he lost control of his pickup truck, hit a signpost, a fire hydrant, a fence post and the back wall of the maintenance shed at Molokai Shores before being ejected from his vehicle. He was dead at the scene.
Furtado was not wearing a seat belt at the time.
The outpouring of emotion from the family of Scotty Boy was hard to witness. I heard anger, frustration, confusion and, most of all, real sadness over this tragic loss. For those of you still feeling the pain of this loss, my deepest condolences.
Furtado was one of two fatal accidents in Maui County last year that involved people who were not buckled up. In another crash on Honoapiilani Highway near Kuikahi Drive in Waikapu, a 39-year-old passenger was killed when he was ejected from the back seat of a car that overturned, police said.
Another Maui County death occurred May 14 when a 22-year-old Haiku woman wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was ejected from a 2005 Dodge pickup truck that went off Kahekili Highway in Kahakuloa.
Starting Monday, May 23, and continuing through June 5, officers are setting up seat belt checkpoints and doing roving patrols throughout the county looking for motorists who aren’t buckled up as part of the nationwide Click It Or Ticket campaign.
The enforcement of the seat belt law will not end when the campaign is over. “We’re going to keep going until everybody wears their seat belt,” said Sgt. Barry Aoki of the police Traffic Section.
Under state law, drivers and front-seat passengers are required to use seat belts. Those under age 18 are required to use seat belts no matter where they’re sitting in a vehicle. The fine is $92 for a seat belt violation.
When I received this seat belt fine, I know it raised my awareness regarding seat belts. I now make sure to buckle up every time I enter a vehicle.
I can only hope that Scotty Boy’s death will have the same effect on those who knew and loved him. If an increased awareness of the importance of seat belt use saves one innocent life, Scotty Boy’s death will not have been in vain.