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Fatal car accidents highlight importance of seatbelt use

In just over two days, two fatal car accidents have occurred on Interstate 79 near the Charleston metro area. Both of the fatalities occurred because the individuals were not wearing seatbelts and were ejected from their automobiles.

Kanawha Cpl. Brian Humphreys and other law enforcement are hoping that an upcoming safety campaign will help encourage drivers and passengers to use their seatbelts. The campaign "Click it or ticket" is part of the Governor's Highway Safety Program and will run from this Friday through September 21.

This is not the first time the Governor's Highway Safety Program has brought awareness and enforcement for seatbelt use. From October 1, 2013, through Tuesday, the program funded 52,266 officer-hours of overtime for enforcement of seatbelt use.

Cpl. Humphreys, quoted in the Charleston Daily Mail states that the whole purpose of the program is to write tickets for seatbelt violations. In 2013, a new law made seatbelt violations a primary offense, meaning a driver can be pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt. Since October 1, 2013, there were 13,070 tickets issued for seatbelt violations as part of the Click It or Ticket campaign. Since the implementation of the new law making non-seatbelt use a primary offense, traffic fatalities have decreased.

Seatbelt use is crucial and effective in preventing death and injury in a car accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing a seatbelt can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent. Seatbelts have been credited for saving more than 75,000 lives from 2004 to 2008.

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