State police see decline in seatbelt use

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — State police say two fatal single-vehicle crashes last week both involved people not wearing their seat belts.

“There are always going to be crashes that are simply going to be unsurvivable. A big truck, a little car, your chances are slim in that case,” said Fritzi Schreffler, PennDOT’s safety press officer.

Schreffler says the best thing you can do to help save your life is buckling up.

“It’s always a struggle to get those last people that simply will not wear it, and it can be anywhere from 15% to 20% of people who are not wearing seat belts and you simply cannot encourage them otherwise,” she said.

State police have seen an increase of people failing to use their seat belts, issuing 105 citations in the month of January alone.

“The citations vary every month, but ultimately, we want the number to be zero,” Trooper Megan Ammerman said.

According to PennDOT’s most recent data in 2018, there were 398 fatal crashes and 1,000 serious injuries involving a driver or passenger not wearing a seat belt. Seat belt enforcement is not a primary law in Pennsylvania.

“It’s a secondary law, which means that an officer has to pull you over for another reason,” Schreffler said. “So, they’re going to be looking for people who are speeding, running red lights, and tailgating, any number of other traffic violations that they can actually pull you over for, and if you are not wearing your seat belt, they are going to give you that additional ticket.”

If a driver or passenger under the age of 18 is not wearing a seat belt, it’s considered a primary offense.

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