May 08, 2009
In 2007, more than 14,000 people
in passenger vehicles died in crashes while unbelted. About half
of these lives could have been saved if seatbelts had been used
at the time of the crash. Statistically, the numbers are worse
at night than during the day, according to new figures released
by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
2008 preliminary reports indicate that number dropped significantly when 21 people died who were not wearing their seatbelts. Seatbelt usage rate rose from 78.4 percent in 2005 to 84.9 percent in 2008.
"More motorists are buckling up since Alaska became a primary seat belt state in May, 2006," explained Cindy Cashen, Alaska Highway Safety Office administrator with the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
"Consistent research has shown that fewer people are buckling up at night when the risk of a being in a fatal crash is greatest." said Alaska State Trooper Colonel Audie Holloway. "That's why the Alaska State Troopers will be out in force at night as well as during the day to make sure drivers and passengers take seat belts, and seat belt laws, seriously."
Holloway added that regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes. He noted that, when worn correctly, seat belts have been proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent, and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and minivans.
NHTSA observational studies show that nearly one out of five Americans still fails to wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle.
The seatbelt enforcement mobilization is being supported by an $8 million national paid advertising campaign, which, along with additional state advertising, will encourage every driver and passenger to buckle up, especially at night.
"Seat belts clearly save lives," said Anchorage Police Chief Rob Heun. "We'll be out in force, day and night in 2009, reminding folks that it's the law. Those of us who respond to traffic accidents know too well that the potential cost of not buckling up is more than any traffic ticket will ever be. Click It or Ticket isn't just a sloganit's the law." Heun said.
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