WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The pandemic wasn’t the only way families were hurt in 2020, last year saw eyebrow-raising numbers in a preventable death.
In 2020, 27% of all vehicle deaths in the state were due to people not wearing seat belts.
“With the pandemic going on and not as many people working and staying at home a lot more, we had lower traffic volumes for a good portion of half of 2020 at least,” Adele Lewis, Texas Department of Transportation Public Information Officer said. “Yet, we had more fatals than prior years by a long shot.”
Not only did we have more vehicle fatals than prior years, but 27% of the state’s fatals could also’ve been prevented if the person wore a seat belt. In our area, it was nearly 50%.
“We had 41 deaths in our district in 2020,” Lewis said. “19 of those people that died were not wearing a seat belt, 19. They are mostly men, more than 2 to 1.”
WFPD Sgt. Charlie Eipper said he sees incidents of people not wearing their seat belt regularly.
“Just in the position that I’m in where I read either accident reports where they are not worn or just hearing about tickets being written, that’s always going to be an issue with people not wearing them,” Eipper said.
In Wichita Falls, in two out of the five fatal accidents, one on McNiel, May 3, 2020, and the other on Hampstead, Nov. 22, 2020, people involved weren’t wearing a seat belt.
“When it comes to the actual people getting hurt or fatality accidents, them not wearing their seat belt is not surprising because it just shows the ones who are wearing them are going to be safer in accidents,” Eipper said. “It just makes you more vulnerable to injury.”
So before you hit the road the next time, take those extra few seconds to buckle up. It could save your life or maybe someone else’s.
“All other factors set aside in a car wreck whether it’s the other driver driving crazy or it’s bad weather, that’s the one thing you can do to save your life that is irregardless of any other factor in a car crash,” Lewis said.
This is just in time for the click it or ticket initiative which is estimated to have saved more than 6,000 lives and prevented more than 100,000 serious injuries from 2002 to 2019.