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Authorities crack down on speeders, seat belt violators in Broward County

FHP kicks off 5-day safety campaign

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – When Michael Smith was pulled over for not wearing a seat belt Monday, he was anything but angry. He'd learned his lesson.

"I'll start wearing it now," Smith said. "I've actually never gotten a seat belt ticket before."

Smith was one of dozens of people who were cited as the Florida Highway Patrol kicked off a five-day campaign in Broward County to promote seat belt wearing as a way to prevent fatalities in high speed crashes.

Troopers said the program is critical because of the 14 people who've died in fatal crashes in Broward County this year, all but one were not wearing seat belts.

"The hardest part of my job is knocking on someone's door and telling them that their family member or family members aren't going to make it home," Trooper Carlos Aguero said.

The campaign is called Broward County Saturation and is a multi-phase operation that is slated to run through May 13.

"It's amazing to me that people still don't want to wear that seat belt, because it will save your life," Sgt. Mark Wysocky said.

"He's going about 90 mph and he is cutting in and out of traffic," Aguero told Local 10 News reporter Michael Seiden, as he watched a driver weave in and out of traffic on Interstate 95. 

When troopers started the seat belt campaign Monday, troopers and deputies with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office spread out across I-95, Interstate 595 and Interstate 75 to remind drivers that it was not only dangerous not to buckle up, but it is also expensive.  

"So he is getting a $200 citation for speeding and a $115 citation for no seat belt," Aguero said as he printed out a citation for a driver. 

Fatal high-speed crashes involving victims who were not wearing a seat belt have become a common problem in South Florida.

Simon Berhane, 21, knows this pain all too well.

In February, Berhane lost his 23-year old brother, Reymond, who was an aspiring firefighter and college graduate, after he crashed his car on I-75.

Reymond Berhane was ejected from the vehicle, according to investigators.

"It is so selfish to not put your seat belt on," Simon Berhane said.  "You have to think of your family, your friends and the people who always loved you."

Simon Berhane has a reminder about the dangers of driving without a seat belt.

"You can always pick up your car, but you can never, ever pick up a body or life after it's gone," he said. "Wear your seat belt and drive safely."