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Seatbelt use drops throughout state

Even though enforcement efforts have increased throughout North Carolina, new statistics show that seatbelt use throughout the state has actually decreased. More drivers in the state, particularly those in the younger demographics, seem to be ignoring the mounting pile of evidence that supports seatbelt use as a safety measure. Compliance with seatbelt laws in 2012 was measured at 87.5 percent, a marked decrease from the 89.5 percent rating in 2011. The refusal to wear seatbelts could ultimately result in more catastrophic injuries in traffic accidents throughout the area.

The increase in enforcement throughout the state has been noticeable, with troopers handing out nearly 1,100 citations since the beginning of the year. That is a 441-citation increase over the same period in 2012.

While North Carolina is experiencing decreased seatbelt usage, its neighbor, South Carolina, has seen a massive rise in seatbelt use since the enactment of a 2005 law. That measure makes seatbelt enforcement a primary offense, which means that drivers can be pulled over only for failing to wear their seatbelts. The state's usage rate rose from 86 percent to 90.5 percent during the past year. North Carolina also has a primary-enforcement law on the books, which has been in effect since 1985. Experts in the area say they are not sure why the drivers are failing to put their seatbelts on, but they agree that the trend must be reversed in order to protect drivers throughout the states.

Scientific research shows that seatbelt usage decreases occupants' risk of fatal injuries in cars by 45 percent. Those in trucks, SUVs and minivans benefit even more, with about 60 percent of fatal injuries being prevented. The fact remains that your chances of surviving an injury accident increase dramatically if you simply buckle up. With the increase in distracted drivers on the region's roads, authorities recommend always wearing a seatbelt. Sudden stops and directional changes can cause serious injury unless the occupant is buckled up.

Source:  www.citizen-times.com, "Seat belt usage falls in NC" Sabian Warren, Sep. 05, 2013

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