Seat belt violations on the rise

Seat belt violations on the rise

By Ashly Custer

September 3, 2012

-- Putting on a seat belt is supposed to be the first thing you do when you get into a car. After all, it is the law. But Action News learned there are still plenty of drivers who aren't strapping in.

"I can understand they're a safety feature and I think children should have them. I believe in the restraints for that, but as an adult I think I should have the choice if I want to wear it or not," said Vicky St.Martin.

It's an excuse State Troopers hear often. The contacts they've made with citizens not wearing their seat belts has continued to grow since 2010. And when comparing the first seven months of this year to last, that number is still rising. It's also why more tickets have been issued.

We've all heard and seen the signs “Click it or ticket," but for those that still don't use your restraint, not only could you get a ticket costing you $124, but it could also lose your life.

“The number of people that are involved in a fatality collision, there's a high percentage of them that are not wearing their seat belt,” said WSP’s Lieutenant Terry Liebrecht.

Unbelted fatalities average about 50-percent of all fatalities in Yakima County. It’s a number that has stayed frighteningly the same over the years, even as overall fatalities have dropped.

The issue appears to be worst in the lower valley. WSP says it's the result of a lot of high-traffic intersections, and law enforcement's limited ability to hand out citations to those enrolled on the reservation. Still, troopers say the message is sinking in.

“I wear my seat belt to feel safe. And in case you get into a car accident, you won’t be flying all over the place,” said Biana Martinez.

They just hope it comes before someone learns that lesson the hard way.

WSP says the vast majority of drivers in the state do voluntarily wear their seatbelt. Being that humans are creatures of habit, troopers say the more people use their seat belts, the less likely they will have to think about.

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