Virginians buckling up more on the road

Photo: Pixabay

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginians are using their seat belts more than ever before.

The Virginian-Pilot reports a record 85 percent of Virginians are using their seat belts, up from 79 percent in recent years.

The figures come from Old Dominion University researchers collecting data through roadside surveys done at random locations in Virginia.

State officials say they are still trying to increase compliance. In 2017 so far, 236 people have died in crashes because they weren't wearing seat belts.

We spoke with Virginia State Police and they say one of the worst groups is men 21-35, making up 1, 465 of the 3,194 unbuckled drivers in crashes in 2017.

One of the best groups is 15 and younger, which made up only 1 person.

"You never know when you will need a seat belt," First Sergeant David Edwards said.

Even cars have alerts to tell you when your seat belt is not fashioned. Based on the numbers from the VA department of motor vehicles, about one-third of the people who are unbuckled in fatal crashes are ejected from the vehicle.

"If you're thrown form the vehicle, then that can result in a serious or fatal crash," First Sgt. Edwards said.

State police hear two common excuses. They are, "I was just going nearby," and "My family and friends were harmed more because of the seat belt."

To combat this, state police have to educate drivers and passengers.

"Unfortunately sometimes the hard facts, showing photos of the differences between someone involved in a crash that had their seat belt on versus someone that didn't is the best way to approach it," First Sgt. Edwards said.

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