Tennessee residents buckle up for protection in car accidents

Most of us know that seat belts can save lives, but we may not realize that the rate of usage in Tennessee is still hovering in the 80 percent range. Now, though, it appears that a breakthrough may be on the horizon, with officers reporting a statewide usage rate of 87.7 percent during the month of June. That is a significant increase over the previous number, which registered at just 84.6 percent.

Law enforcement officers say it is important to realize that seat belts can save lives during an auto accident. That is why they are pushing for increased compliance through the ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign, which blends education and law enforcement efforts in both state and local arenas. The “aggressive” seat belt enforcement program has apparently led to a massive increase — more than 230 percent — in the number of seat belt violation citations that have been issued since 2012. Experts say they believe state residents may finally be getting the message about the value of seat belts.

Of course, there is always room for improvement. Tennessee officials say they are considering new ways to improve seat belt compliance to lower the risk of brain injury and other wounds during car collisions. Statistics released in mid-July show that 476 people have died on the state’s roadways so far this year, which is a decrease of nearly 30 deaths when compared to the same time frame last year.

Shockingly, nearly half of the state’s roadway fatalities have been made up of motorists who were not wearing their seat belts. Although it is important for at-fault drivers to be held accountable for their poor decision-making — and liability for injuries should not be dependent upon seat belt use — the fact remains that seat belts can lower the risk of fatality in an auto accident. Protect yourself against the actions of a negligent driver by being sure to buckle up.

Source: TN.gov, “Governor’s Highway Safety Office, Tennessee Highway Patrol Announce Increase in Seat Belt Usage” Jul. 23, 2014