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The original item was published from 4/23/2015 8:37:18 AM to 4/30/2015 12:05:01 AM.

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Posted on: April 23, 2015

[ARCHIVED] Department of Public Safety Press Release for Seat Belt Safety

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety has released a reminder about seat belt usage and the dramatic increase in the number of motor vehicle fatality victims who were not wearing seat belts.

DPS Officials Urge Seat Belt Use

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Department of Public Safety officials say so far in 2015, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of motor vehicle fatality victims who were not wearing seat belts.

Of the 18 fatalities reported in motor vehicles crashes as of April 9, 15 victims were not wearing seat belts. That is about an 83 percent average. The average in years past has been around 60 percent.

“Bottom line, not wearing a seat belt increases your risk of being thrown from a vehicle," said Department of Public Secretary Trevor Jones. "That heightens the chance of severe injury or death.”

The Highway Patrol and the Office of Highway Safety continue their educational efforts to encourage motorists to wear seat belts.

Highway Patrol Superintendent Colonel Craig Price says state law requires drivers and front seat passengers to wear seat belts. But he says anyone in a motor vehicle should be properly restrained. All passengers under 18 years old must be properly restrained regardless of their seating position in the vehicle. “We can never stress enough the importance of seat belts,” Price said. “You can’t put a value on someone who is seriously injured or loses their life.”

Department officials also emphasize that it is not just the person who is not wearing the seat belt that is impacted. A new Office of Highway Safety commercial focuses on how not wearing a seat belt can bring suffering and sorrow to a crash victim’s loved ones.

“It is not just family and loved ones who have to deal with the senseless tragedy,” said Office of Highway Safety Director Lee Axdahl. “It is all the first responders, law enforcement, fire fighters and those who are the first on the scene. They see the results of people who didn’t believe they had to wear a seat belt.”

Jones said while motor vehicle crashes will happen, those involved can further protect themselves by wearing a seat belt. “Give yourself a chance by wearing a safety restraint,” he said. “The numbers indicate that your odds of being killed or injured in a vehicle crash are reduced by half by when wearing a seat belt.”

Watertown Fire Rescue would like to remind you seat belt usage undoubtedly saves lives. Make an impact on your children leading by example and promoting seat belt usage. With the increase in the Interstate Speed Limit we especially encourage seat belt usage while traveling on that, as well as any other time you are driving. No texting and driving, pay attention when operating a motor vehicle, and please don't drink and drive. Stay safe!!!!

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