POTTSTOWN PA – Forget that roasted or deep-fried turkey, or for that matter the spiral-sliced ham, too. As the meat of his Thanksgiving holiday message, intended as a subtle safety reminder for teen-age drivers and riders at Pottsgrove High School, Dave Slothower served up candy.
Slothower, a Lower Pottsgrove police patrolman and the high school’s resource officer, could be found Friday afternoon (Nov. 20, 2015) with several of his department colleagues at the building’s Kauffman Road driveway. They checked for student seatbelt use. Those who were buckled up received Smarties-brand candies from the police; those who weren’t got Dum-Dums-brand lollipops.
Students took the hint real fast, according to Chief Michael Foltz. He praised Slothower for his creativity.
“David came to me with (this) excellent idea based on his awareness that some of our high school students are not wearing seatbelts,” and described how the end-of-day check would work, Foltz said in an advance announcement to local media. “I think this is a great idea to promote both seatbelt awareness and our community policing effort. It is lighthearted, friendly and will also build some bonds between our officers and the students.”
Pottsgrove administrators also warmed to and approved the idea.
The seatbelt stop was to have occurred Thursday (Nov. 19), but that day’s cold and heavy rain made it difficult. Mother Nature cooperated the next day, and Foltz joined his uniformed officers from about 2-3 p.m. to conduct the check as students left to begin their holiday week-off.
Parent-teacher conferences were held yesterday (Monday, Nov. 23) and are also scheduled today (Tuesday, Nov. 24) from noon to 8 p.m. at the school, and the break officially starts Wednesday. No classes are being conducted the entire week.
Lower Pottsgrove is among 77 law enforcement agencies across Montgomery, Chester, Bucks and Delaware counties that are participating in the national Thanksgiving holiday “Click It or Ticket” seatbelt and DUI awareness campaign, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation office in King of Prussia. It began Monday and runs through Nov. 30.
Drivers, be they students or adults, who aren’t buckled in if they get stopped during the campaign won’t receive anything sweet, PennDOT noted. It’s possible they may be ticketed instead. Those driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances almost certainly will be arrested.
PennDOT data from police reports shows that, statewide in 2014, 383 people who died in vehicle crashes were unbuckled. More than 290 people died in crashes involving a drinking driver. Its data also shows those rates increased during night-time hours, so PennDOT is paying overtime costs for departments like Lower Pottsgrove to conduct seat-belt and DUI enforcement at the same time.
Photo from Google Images