(WKBN) – State troopers in Trumbull County say that of the 11 fatal crashes they’ve handled so far this year, seven of them have involved drivers not wearing their seat belts.
It’s a problem they want to address this month, which could mean an expensive traffic ticket for those who get caught.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Sergeant Erik Golias knows firsthand the value of seat belts. He handled a fatal crash in Hartford back in March where the driver was thrown from his car when it rolled over.
“I can say, in my 22 years of experience, that without a doubt, he probably would have lived had he been belted,” Golias said.
The sergeant was one of a number of officers from both Ohio and Pennsylvania to announce the annual “Click It or Ticket” seat belt campaign, which begins later this month across the country.
State troopers say the leading cause of deaths in traffic crashes involves unrestrained drivers, which was the case last month when a crash near Mercer left one dead and two others badly hurt.
“A crash that could possibly be survivable, now you get ejected from your car and you sustain injuries from the ejection,” said Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Josh Black.
Mercer County coroner John Libonati says the statistics most never heard are the cases where those who are buckled up walk away from crashes.
“Seat belts don’t only save you in the accident, but it can help you not get in that accident by being part of the vehicle and being able to manage that vehicle,” Libonati said.
Although seat belt usage is a secondary offense in both states, meaning police need to catch you doing something else before they can cite you for it, they admit the best enforcement may be visibility.
“I watched numerous, beyond I can count, people as they went by me or as they approach me. I watched them put their seat belt on — it didn’t require a ticket,” Golias said.
The campaign begins next Monday.