Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

May 7, 2014

Buckle up, drive safe

Two years ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said research gathered in 2010 found 51 percent of people who died in fatal car crashes were not wearing seat belts.

And though such fatalities in 2010 were the lowest since 1949, the National Center for Statistics and Analysis estimated 3,341 lives could have been saved if everyone involved in those fatal accidents wore seat belts.

This week, Indiana State Police are giving fair warning to seat belt scofflaws: Troopers will step up enforcement of the state’s seat belt law beginning Friday.

It’s part of a national mobilization that will take place over the Memorial Day holiday period. Thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country will be participating.

More than 250 Indiana law enforcement agencies will conduct special day and night patrols to identify and ticket unrestrained drivers and passengers. The campaign will end on June 1.

In Indiana, there were more than 3,300 crashes in 2011 involving unrestrained drivers and occupants and 202 fatalities. In 2012, state law changed and now requires all vehicle occupants to be buckled up — even when riding in the back seat.

Before heading out for a vacation, college graduation or Memorial Day celebration this month, remember to make sure your tires are properly inflated and that your wipers and lights operate properly. Also allow for extra time to your destination.

Doug Carter of the state police recommends these easy steps be taken before you celebrate a little too much:

• Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.

• Before drinking alcohol, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.

• If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.

• If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take the keys and help make safe travel arrangements.

Don’t be a statistic. Buckle up and drive safely.

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