The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety has honored 123 law enforcement officers from 103 agencies across the Commonwealth for their efforts to increase the use of seat belts and child restraints in motor vehicles. The fifth annual Governor’s Occupant Protection Awards ceremony was held at the Marriott Griffin Gate in Lexington. Awards were presented to officers with the most occupant protection citations in each agency and division.There are six divisions, broken down by number of officers within the agency, plus a division for Kentucky State Police. “Despite a wealth of data showing that seat belts and child restraints save lives, each year hundreds of unrestrained motorists lose their lives on Kentucky roadways,” KOHS Director Bill Bell said before presenting the awards. “These officers, their departments and agencies render a great service for public safety by enforcing our occupant protection laws.” There were 672 highway fatalities in Kentucky in 2014, with 521 killed in motor vehicles. Of those 521 fatalities, 61 percent (319) were not wearing a seat belt. “I applaud Kentucky’s efforts to keep its citizens safe on the road,” National Safety Council President Deborah Hersman said. “The seat belt usage rate increased with the passage of the primary law from 67 percent in 2006 to 86 percent in 2014. Also, I’m pleased to hear of the enhanced booster seat law that follows federal guidelines and protects children up to 57 inches.” According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts, when worn correctly, are proven to reduce the risk of fatal injuries to front-seat occupants by 45 percent – and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans. Also according to NHTSA, A properly installed, belt-positioning booster seat lowers the risk of injury to children by nearly 60 percent, compared with seat belts alone.