State officials say heeding two simple words can make all the difference traveling this Memorial Day weekend: buckle up.
Nebraska has enjoyed two years of falling traffic fatalities. Not so, this year. At least, not so far.
The state has recorded 65 traffic fatalities so far this year, eight more than in the same period last year.
“The one factor linking the increase in fatalities on Nebraska roads is the lack of seat belt usage,” Gov. Dave Heineman stated during a news conference outside the Nebraska State Patrol headquarters in Lincoln.
According to the state, in the first four months of the year eight out of every 10 people killed in traffic crashes were not wearing seat belts. Nineteen people died in car wrecks between 8pm and 6am during that period, 18 were ejected from their vehicle. None were wearing their seat belts.
Nebraska State Patrol Superintendent Col. David Sankey joined the governor in driving home the importance of seat belts.
“By fastening your seat belt, you increase your odds of surviving a crash by up to 50%,” according to Sankey.
Troopers began stepping up seat belt enforcement this week, prior to Memorial Day weekend.
While the Memorial Day weekend is regarded as the unofficial start of the summer traveling season, it also marks the more official start of highway construction season.
Nebraska Department of Roads Director Monty Fredrickson said highway construction season is the time of year when drivers must share the roadway with workers. Fredrickson noted that six people died in construction zone car wrecks. There was a total of 254 traffic crashes in Nebraska construction zones last year. Fines for traffic infractions double when construction workers are present.
Officials give two final pieces of advice: remember to move over for emergency vehicles and don’t text and drive.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]
AUDIO: Gov. Heineman, state officials, hold news conference on buckling up [10 min.]