MONTGOMERY – Preliminary data from crashes investigated by Alabama State Troopers indicates 59 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2012 were not wearing seat belts the time of their deaths state officials announced today.
For 2012, 514 people died in crashes investigated by troopers on Alabama’s rural, state, U.S. and interstate highways. Of those, 424 were in vehicles where seat belts were available, and 251 were not wearing seat belts. Crash data from crashes investigated by local law enforcement won’t be compiled until later this year, so the total number of fatalities, including the percentage not wearing seat belts is expected the climb even higher.
According to preliminary traffic crash data, there were 36 people killed in vehicle crashes investigated by state troopers in Alabama in January of 2013. Of that number, 29 were in vehicles where seat belts were available, and 17 victims were not wearing seat belts, state officials
A year-end review of 2012 crash data shows that 59 percent of people killed in vehicle crashes were not restrained, and the annual average of fatality victims not wearing seat belts during the past five years is an alarming 60 percent.
Transportation Director John Cooper said those percentages pose a serious concern to the traffic safety community, and that’s one reason the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and the Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) have made a commitment to create more public awareness about the importance of seat belt use.
“Too many people continue to die in crashes because they are not wearing seat belts,” said Cooper. “It’s a proven fact that buckling up every time we get behind the wheel or ride as a passenger helps save lives. Buckling up in the front seat as well as the back seat can help improve your chances of surviving a crash.”
Col. Hugh B. McCall, Public Safety’s director and the state’s highest-ranking trooper, said, “In Alabama, the use of seat belts and child restraints is the law – not a suggestion. To reduce the risk of injury or death in a traffic crash, we encourage motorists to buckle up no matter how short the trip.”
Alabama law requires front seat passengers and children between the ages of 6 and 15 to wear seat belts, McCall said. Additionally, children younger than age 6 must be properly restrained in a federal motor vehicle safety standards-approved child safety seat.
DPS and ALDOT will jointly release to the public each month the number of unrestrained fatalities in crashes investigated by troopers in an effort to improve seatbelt use and decrease deaths on Alabama highways.
For additional information, visit www.dot.state.al.us.