FHP says fatal crashes up due to people not wearing seat belts

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 9:36 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - One Florida Highway Patrol policy enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year is its Click It or Ticket Campaign. FHP Public Information Officer Jason King said so far this year, they’ve seen 34 fatal crashes across the six counties they cover.

“That’s 34 too many,” said King.

King said up to this point in the year, they’ve seen about five more fatal crashes than this time last year.

“We were definitely way ahead of where we were last year,” said King.

In total, King said they saw more than 60 fatal crashes in 2020. One traffic homicide investigator said it’s sometimes disheartening.

“Because knowing that just simply putting on a seatbelt could have prevented this whole situation,” Corporal Kevin Kowalski said.

Kowalski said buckling up could have prevented this fatal crash on Back Beach Road last week. Wednesday, investigators mapped out the crash and want to use it as an example of what can happen if you don’t take that extra five seconds to buckle your seatbelt.

“Most of my fatals, if the individual was wearing a seatbelt or the occupants were wearing seatbelts, it would have prevented their deaths,” said Kowalski.

Statistically, King said you have an 86% chance of surviving a crash just by wearing your seatbelt.

“But your body itself, your core organs, your heart, your lungs, all the main parts of your body stay contained in that seat area,” said King.

King said if enforcement is what it takes, then that’s the step they’ll take to prevent further deaths from not wearing seat belts.

“Our main function is not to be the bad guy and throw you a ticket when you’re trying to go have fun at the beach, but it’s to keep you alive,” said King.

Keeping you alive, so you don’t have troopers showing up at your door.

“Having to go tell your family members that you didn’t survive this crash because of your seatbelt,” said Kowalski.

Both men said some other safety tips you can take to be a safer driver are to follow the speed limits and don’t get distracted by your phone.

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