Unrestrained fatalities on the rise
by RACHEL DAVIS
May 18, 2013 | 2077 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A recent report from the Alabama Department of Public Safety said the number of unrestrained traffic fatalities in collisions increased in April and has increased in the state overall.

According to the report, preliminary crash data showed that 45 people were killed in traffic accidents in April, while just 42 were reported in March. Of the 45 people killed, 37 were in vehicles where seatbelts were available and 26 were not restrained. Only 20 unrestrained traffic deaths were reported in March.

At the time of the report, 157 people had died in traffic collisions in Alabama so far in 2013 and 82 of them were not restrained. The Centers for Disease Control’s website states that seatbelts reduce the risk of death for those in the front seat by 45 percent and the risk of serious injury by 50 percent.

“Of our calls of fatality wrecks, we see more severe injuries in incidents where the victims were not restrained,” Walker County Coroner J. C. Poe confirmed.

Poe also said that the biggest risk for the unrestrained driver or passenger was the increased risk of being ejected from the vehicle, which includes risk of head and neck trauma and the risk of being run over by their vehicle or another vehicle on the roadway.

The CDC website said that people not wearing a seatbelt were 30 times more likely to be ejected during a crash and three out of every four people who were ejected died from their injuries.

According to the CDC, more than half of the people killed in car crashes were not restrained. In Alabama, the state Department of Public Safety said that number is 59 to 60 percent in accidents investigated by the State Troopers. Data for wrecks investigated by municipalities was not available.

According to the CDC, approximately one in seven drivers and passengers still doesn’t use proper restraints.

With those statistics in mind, local law enforcement will be cracking down on drivers and passengers who are not wearing their seatbelts or not using proper child restraints. The “Click It or Ticket” campaign kicks off Monday. Sumiton, Cordova and Jasper police received grant money this year to increase patrols through June 2.

The seatbelt requirement in the state of Alabama was signed into law in 1999. Although fines are considerably less than for most moving violations, officers can stop a vehicle just for a seatbelt or child restraint violation or can add it to another violation.

Common excuses for not wearing a seatbelt are that it is uncomfortable, they have airbags to protect them or they fear they would not be able get out of the vehicle if the car were to land in water or another hazard.

“If that happens, you are much more likely to remain conscious and be able to release your seatbelt and free yourself,” Sumiton Assistant Police Chief Scott Karr said. “And for the people who think they don’t have to wear a seatbelt because they have an airbag — that only works on initial impact, not on a rotational impact or second impact. They won’t deploy a second time and they won’t stay inflated.”