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Missouri officials promoting seatbelt use

The Missouri Highway Patrol and the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety are participating in the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign in effort to prevent fatal car accidents, which means extra patrols will be on the roads until June 1 enforcing the state’s seatbelt laws with a “no tolerance” policy.

Officials said the goal of the campaign is to reduce car accidentfatalities in the state by 15 percent. Last year, there were 757 people killed in highway fatalities in Missouri, and more than 63 percent of the victims were not wearing seatbelts.

Seatbelt usage among Missourians is lower than the national average and has been for several years. Officials say Missouri's seat belt usage rate is around 79 percent while the national average is 86 percent.

That could have something to do with the fact that Missouri is one of the few states without a primary seatbelt law, which allow police to pull drivers over based on a seatbelt violation only. In most parts of the state, police can only ticket drivers for not wearing a seatbelt after pulling them over for another violation.

Additionally, fines associated with seatbelt violations in Missouri are low compared to other states. Fines for unbuckled adults are just $10 under the current law while unbuckled children can result in a $50 fine.

Officials say that even just getting Missouri’s seatbelt use average up to the national average could save an additional 100 lives per year.

Anyone who has lost a loved one in a fatal car accident will tell you that wearing a seatbelt is definitely a habit worth adopting. Serious car accidents can happen out of nowhere, which it why it’s so important to be prepared.

Source: ABC 17 News, “Missouri seat belt use percentage sits below the national average,” Angel Mendez, May 19, 2014

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