Seat belts and enforcement save lives
• In 2012 seat belts saved an estimated 12,174 people from dying. From 2008 – 2012 seat belts saved nearly 63,000 lives.
• In 2012, 3,031 additional lives could have been saved if all unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants 5 and older involved in fatal crashes had worn their seat belts.
• Cops aren’t just cracking down for the fun of it. Wearing a seat belt is a serious issue.
For the first time in five years, fatalities for unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants have gone up. In 2012, there were 10,335 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants who died. Because of these fatalities, cops are stepping up enforcement and cracking down on those who don’t wear their seat belts.
• In Kansas, there were 177 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants who died.
Too many motorists are dying
• Young adults are dying at a disproportionate rate because they are not wearing their seat belts. Sixty-two percent of 18- to 34-year-old passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were not wearing their seat belts.
• In Kansas, 60 percent of the 18- to 34-year-old occupants killed in crashes were not wearing their seat belts.
• Those who drive and ride in pickup trucks may think that their large vehicle will protect them more than other vehicles in a crash. This false sense of security may cause them to not wear their seat belts, but the stats show that this bravado is misplaced. Sixty-six percent of pickup truck occupants who were killed were not buckled up. That’s compared to 45 percent of car occupants who were killed while not wearing their seat belts.
• In Kansas, 69 percent of pickup truck occupants who were killed were not buckled up, compared to 44 percent of car occupants.
• More men than women die every year in motor vehicle traffic crashes. In 2012, 65 percent of the 21,667 passenger vehicle occupants killed were men. Men also wore their seat belts less than women in fatal crashes – 56 percent of men were unrestrained, compared to 43 percent for women.
• In Kansas, 222 (70 percent) of the 317 vehicle occupants killed were men, compared to 95 women. 61 percent of the men were unrestrained, compared to 44 percent for women.
• In 2012, 13,268 traffic fatalities occurred in rural locations, compared to 8,341 traffic fatalities that occurred in urban locations. Out of those fatalities, 54 percent of those not wearing their seatbelt were in rural locations, compared to 48 percent in urban locations.
• In Kansas, 229 of the fatalities occurred in rural locations, compared to 88 in urban locations. Out of those, 72 percent of those in rural locations were unbuckled, compared to 24 percent in urban locations.
• People who live in rural areas might believe that the close-knit nature of their small town will get them out of a ticket. However, motorists should not think that knowing the officer who pulled them over will help them avoid a ticket. Cops are cracking down everywhere on those not wearing their seat belts.
• Day or night, local law enforcement officers are on the lookout for those not wearing their seat belts--and for good reason. In 2012, 61 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m. – 5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts.
• In Kansas, 70 percent of vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) were not restrained, compared to 45 percent unrestrained during the day (6 a.m. to 5:59 p.m.).
• Local law enforcement officers are actually trained to spot seat belt violations at night, so just because it’s dark, don’t think they won’t be able to spot unbelted drivers.
Learn more about the Click It or Ticket mobilization at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration webiste www.nhtsa.gov/ciot.
SHAWNEE – Two years ago Shelby Feugate was a 20-year-old who never wore her seat belt.
“I thought they were uncomfortable and I just didn’t like them,” Feugate said. “I never thought I’d get into a crash.”
Feugate spoke from a wheel chair Wednesday at a Kansas Department of Transportation news conference at the Shawnee Police Department. Feugate says she never wore a seat belt until after the crash that cost the use of her legs. In 2012, a car she was driving was struck by another vehicle on the passenger side. The other driver was wearing a seatbelt and walked away; Feugate suffered a spinal cord injury that made her a paraplegic.
“I went to a rehabilitation center for two months to learn how to live life in a wheelchair,” Feugate said. “What I miss most about my life before is being spontaneous. Now I have to plan everything in advance, even just to go out.”
In May, the Kansas Highway Patrol and sheriffs and police departments across Kansas will be working overtime to catch drivers who are not buckled up.
“Given the choice between a crash death notification and writing a seat-belt ticket, any law officer would much prefer the latter,” said Shawnee Police Sgt. Jim Baker. “Making a death notification is one of the hardest parts of being an officer, especially when simply buckling up would have saved a life.”
The extra enforcement is part of a larger, national Click It or Ticket mobilization that runs May 19 – June 1.
“Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer vacation season, and we want everyone to arrive alive,” Baker said. “Just buckle up, or you will receive a ticket.”
Kansas law allows that law enforcement officers can stop any vehicle simply for a seat-belt violation. No other violation needs be observed. Baker said enforcement will focus on younger motorists, pickup trucks and nighttime motorists. National statistics show crash fatalities in these categories are more likely to be related to failure to wear seat belts than other categories.
Jenny Scheve, a former trauma nurse who now speaks for ThinkFirst of Kansas City, an injury prevention program, says the biggest challenges with unbelted crash survivors are head and spinal cord injuries.
“The body cannot regenerate damaged brain or spine cells,” Scheve said. “Crash victims who were not wearing a seat belt are the most difficult cases, medically for the treatment staff and emotionally for family and friends. Lives are changed.”
Chris Bortz, KDOT Traffic Safety manager, said Kansans are below the national average in seat belt use. In 2012 Kansas had a 79.5 percent usage rate, which is 39th in the country, compared with 86 percent in the rest of the United States.
“To save lives, we’ve created a new message that Kansans will see on television and online,” Bortz said. “The message emphasizes that you will be stopped and you will get a ticket if you don’t wear a seat belt. In Kansas it’s the law. Click it or ticket.”