All this month the State Patrol is making an extra effort to drive home the importance of seat belts.
Officers will be working over time in the month of May, stressing how important safety belts are in preventing death and injury and cracking down on those who don't use the restraints.
"May is Buckle Up Month. We want to remind them of how important it is, 71 percent of our fatalities last year were people that were not buckled up," said Capt. Jeff Frenette, Wisconsin Highway Patrol.
Drivers and passengers can be fined for not wearing their belts, but Frenette says the reason people should buckle up is because it could save their life.
wsaw.com Extended Web Coverage
How Many People Are Using Seat Belts?
- 1998 – 69%
- 1999 – 67%
- 2000 – 71%
- 2001 – 73%
Seat Belt Safety Tips
- Kids Ride in Back - Infants should never ride in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger air bag. Children, typically ages 12 and under, also should ride buckled up in the back seat.
- Child Safety Seats - Young children and infants always should ride in age- and size-appropriate child safety seats. The safety seat should be held properly in place by the vehicle's safety belts and the child should be correctly buckled in the child safety seat.
- Wear Both Lap and Shoulder Belts - The shoulder strap should cross the collarbone, and the lap belt should fit low and tight. The shoulder strap should never be slipped behind the back or under the arm - this is a dangerous habit, especially in cars with air bags.
It Costs Not to Wear Your Seat Belt
- Americans are paying $14.3 billion per year in injury-related costs for people who don't wear seat belts.
- On average, those injured pay for less than 30 percent of these total costs. The remaining 70 percent - $10.1 billion, is paid for by society through higher automobile and health insurance rates and through public assistance programs funded with federal and state tax revenues.
- By increasing seat belt use from the current 70 percent to 90 percent, we would save $356 million a year in Medicare and Medicaid costs alone.
- It is estimated that each driver who buckles up is paying an additional auto insurance premium of $40 per year to cover the costs of the drivers who don't buckle up.
Source: www.nsc.org contributed to this report.