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Make people wear seatbelts

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By Jim Clark

There is one law in Florida that I have been fighting for years. Maybe something is finally going to happen.

Under current law, a law enforcement officer is not allowed to stop someone just because they don't have a seatbelt on. They can only be cited if they are stopped for some other reason.

There reportedly is a bill in the Legislature that would change that. Hopefully, it will go through.

Normally I'm not in favor of more government intervention. However, sometimes you just have to legislate something to overcome people's lack of judgment.

Most newspapers, including ours, get daily reports of serious accidents from the Florida Highway Patrol. I always look to make sure they don't involve someone from around here.

In almost every instance of a fatality, the box that says "seatbelt in use" is checked "no."

Those same reports almost always say, at some point, "the victim was ejected from the vehicle." That's legal talk for saying, "They were thrown out of the car."

The most recent was an accident near Starke that came across Tuesday. The driver was alone on State Road 16, went off the edge of the road, "overcorrected," which is common in many of these wrecks, went across to the other shoulder and struck a tree and then was thrown from the vehicle. She wasn't wearing a seatbelt, and now a 32-year-old woman is dead.

So I urge legislators to take positive action on this bill. It can save lives, even those of people who can't seem to understand how important it is to wear a belt.

BEING A CONGRESSMAN: U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns of Ocala was in town last Saturday, holding a "town meeting" at the library. At times it turned into a town shouting match, thanks to one person who kept interrupting other speakers.

Finally a police officer on duty had to step in and tell the woman to calm down, which she eventually did, before emotionally raising an issue at the end of the meeting involving disposition of horses.

Stearns made a deliberate effort to work around the disturbances, but it was still a bit embarrassing for those in attendance to see what the Congressman had to put up with.

Stearns had three more gatherings scheduled that day, all in Marion County. Hopefully they went a little better than the one in Williston.

STYLE STUFF: Highway numbers provide a constant problem, not only because there are so many, but there are also more than one number for the same street in the state system.

We use the basic simple term that most people are used to: U.S. Highway 27 (U.S. 27 on second reference), State Road 121 (SR121 on second reference), etc. The highway Alt. U.S. 27 usually provides some interesting variations.

The problems really start when the state uses State Road numbers for the U.S. highways. The state Web site that lists these is inaccurate at best, and at worst doesn't even list Levy County.

We'll keep trying to use the most common names so you know where something is, regardless of the official state name.

Web site: This week we bring you something relatively new from Google called "streetview." Some people are already complaining about invasion of privacy. Go to http://maps.google.com/help/maps/streetview/

Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com or at 528-3343.