KSP Highway Safety Branch

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Sergeant Michael B. Webb
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KSP Highway Safety Branch News Release

Seat Belt Safety: Click It For Life
By KSP Commissioner, Rodney Brewer

Date of News Release: 02/09/09

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) - Thirty-six fewer deaths were reported regarding highway fatalities in Kentucky for the calendar year 2008. While safety advocates were excited about this year end report, the stark reality overshadowed the celebration when the overall numbers were examined. Although it was one of the safest years we had seen in a decade, sadly 828 people lost their lives on our roadways last year. Statistics show that 64% of those killed were not wearing a seat belt.

Kentucky has the fourth lowest rate of seat belt usage among all states. A seat belt survey in 2008 showed that approximately 73% of motorists routinely buckle up in the Commonwealth. While this slight increase in usage from 2007 is admirable, it falls well below where we need to be. Despite the fact that KSP issues nearly 50,000 citations a year for seat belt violations, Kentucky drivers have been slow to react to the primary restraint statute. Interestingly, the lowest usage rates occur in the eastern region of our state with pick-up truck drivers between the ages of 21-35. Conversely, the highest usage rate was found in the northern regions of the state among those operating passenger type vans. Over all, night time drivers, young males and teenagers are among those least likely to wear seat belts in Kentucky.

While arguments abound for reasons not to buckle up among seat belt opponents, the statistics are sobering:

  • Lap/shoulder belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat occupants by 45% and the risk of critical injury by 50% depending on the seating position and type of vehicle involved.
  • Average inpatient hospital care costs for an unbelted crash victim are 50% higher than those for a belted crash victim. Society bears 85% of these costs, not the individual involved.
  • If 90% of Americans buckled up, over 5,500 deaths and 132,000 injuries would be prevented annually.

One traffic fatality occurs every twelve minutes in the United States. Police officers and crash data both verify that failure to wear a seat belt contributes to more fatalities than any other single traffic related behavior.

However, the biggest consideration should be this: Ten people died on Kentucky roadways last week and seven of them were not wearing their seat belts. Of those victims, two were ejected from the vehicle. Seat belts used in tandem with air bags will save lives. 'Click It' for life.

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