Buckle up, phone down

Police officers from the Charles County Sheriff’ Office and the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office pose for a photo at one of the traffic stop locations during a joint effort for the “Buckle Up, Phone Down” program.

Officers from the Charles County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Operations Unit, along with officers from St. Mary’s and Calvert counties, recently conducted a series of joint enforcement efforts as part of the “Buckle Up, Phone Down” program, according to a sheriff’s office press release.

Funded by the Maryland Highway Safety Office, “Buckle Up, Phone Down” is a seatbelt and distracted driving initiative which encourages motorists to always wear seatbelts and not utilize their phones while driving.

During this proactive initiative, officers conducted border-to-border operations to observe violations at the county lines. During this effort, officers issued 571 citations and 99 warnings, according to the release. Of the citations, 268 were for distracted driving, 189 were for drivers not wearing their seatbelts, 15 were for passengers not wearing seatbelts, five were for passengers under 16 not wearing seatbelts, and 94 were for other miscellaneous violations.

“It is crucial that we remind motorists to wear their seatbelts and keep their eyes on the road,” Capt. Bobby Kiesel, commander of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division, said in the release. “Accidents due to distracted driving are preventable, and seatbelts save lives. It’s not about writing tickets; it’s about keeping our roadways safe.”