Unbelted traffic deaths are on the rise in Delaware as statewide seat belt use declines, according to the Office of Highway Safety.
Since Jan. 1, 60 percent of the 50 drivers and passengers killed in car crashes were not wearing seat belts. This is much higher than at this time in 2010 when the percentage of unrestrained fatalities was 36 percent of the 50 drivers and passengers who had lost their lives.
“We’re asking drivers and passengers to buckle up for safety,” said Gov. Jack Markell. “It’s something we can all do when we ride in a vehicle. The more Delawareans wear seat belts, the more injuries we spare and lives we save. It’s that simple.”
The most common factors in the unrestrained fatal crashes were speeding, failure to negotiate a curve and loss of control of the vehicle, once again indicating that those who don’t wear seat belts tend to be drivers, or passengers who ride with drivers, that exhibit riskier behind the wheel behavior.
According to OHS, Delaware seat belt use rates fell slightly by .4 percent, from 90.7 percent in 2010 to 90.3 percent in 2011. What may appear to be a small decrease in usage is a big concern for Highway Safety officials.
“We are taking this situation quite seriously,” said Jana Simpler, Director for the Office of Highway Safety. “It is particularly distressing to see such an increase when we know that buckling your seat belt is one of the simplest, fastest, and most effective ways to prevent being killed or injured in a crash.”