State troopers: seat belts could have prevented recent fatalities

Updated: Feb. 16, 2020 at 10:28 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - We’re all sick of the rainy weather, but besides being an inconvenience, it’s brought to light what troopers are calling a very serious lapse in judgment.

Corporal Steve Smith is on a crusade. He wants to save lives. And he says wearing a seat belt is the easiest way to do it.

“A lot of excuses we hear are that it’s uncomfortable. Can’t tuck the seatbelt under your armpit ‘cause you don’t like it touching your neck,” says Smith.

But new statistics explain pretty clearly why you should never skip that simple click.

“About 64% of our fatalities are not wearing seatbelts.”

An alarming statistic that should make you think twice. In the last two weeks, troopers have seen three fatalities that could have been prevented with a seat belt. In two of those fatalities, the person was ejected from the car.

“And these are rollover crashes where the vehicle hydroplaned and ran into the median and rolled over.”

Severe weather and rain have only heightened the importance of this safety feature.

“At any one time, you only have the palm of your hand of your tire that’s touching the surface of the roadway. So when the water builds up, you’re lessening that amount of tire that’s hitting the surface of the roadway.”

And he has had people tell him they knew someone who died because they were wearing a seatbelt. To that, he says sometimes crashes are just too severe to survive.

“Your chance of survival in a crash at a high impact crash with your seatbelt, It’s just tremendously raised if you’re wearing a seatbelt.”

In most cars you can adjust the height of the seatbelt and move it to where it’s comfortable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 15,000 lives were saved in 2017 by simply buckling up.

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