Troopers warn about deadly trend of not wearing seatbelts - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Troopers warn about deadly trend of not wearing seatbelts

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State troopers investigated 515 traffic deaths in 2013. In 70 percent of the deaths, the person was not wearing a seatbelt. Source: WBRC State troopers investigated 515 traffic deaths in 2013. In 70 percent of the deaths, the person was not wearing a seatbelt. Source: WBRC

Alabama State Troopers want to spread a message about an upsetting trend they are noticing this year.

Spokesperson Sgt. Steve Jarrett says they are seeing a trend where a vehicle runs off the road, someone inside is not wearing a seatbelt, they are thrown from the vehicle, and killed.

On Saturday, Jarrett said troopers saw this trend play out several times. Each time, he believes seat belt use, or lack of seat belt use, likely played a role in the outcome.

"Today, we've had several," Jarrett said. "The ones that were wearing seat belts, minor injuries, if any. The ones that were not wearing seatbelts were killed or seriously injured."

Jarrett says the trend seems to be linked to a combination of factors, including speed, DUI, distraction and fatigue.

"Ninety-five percent of them are driver error. But the main thing, whether it be driver distraction, falling asleep...the main thing is vehicles leaving the road, overturning, driver ejected."

Jarrett says in 2013, state troopers investigated 515 traffic deaths in Alabama. Of those, he says 70 percent of the victims were not wearing seatbelts.

Other Alabama law enforcement agencies investigated more than 300 additional traffic fatalities in 2013.

So far in 2014, Jarrett says troopers have investigated 245 traffic deaths. Over the Fourth of July weekend, troopers investigated 237 crashes that resulted in 10 fatalities.

Troopers also remind drivers that wearing a seat belt is the law. In Alabama, adults in the front seat must wear seat belts. Under the age of 15, a child must be in an age-appropriate restraint anywhere in the vehicle.

Jarrett says troopers strongly encourage adults riding anywhere in the vehicle to wear a seat belt too.

"Statistics say all of us in some point in our lives will likely be involved in a traffic crash," Jarrett said. "So, if that's predictable, let's minimize those risks and wear those seat belts every trip, every day."

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