The Memorial Day holiday weekend kicks off the summer driving season and it comes with a warning from state officials.
Traffic deaths are up this year in Nebraska. Seat belt useage is down.
Nebraska State Patrol Superintendent David Sankey says that is a dangerous trend.
“Seat belt and child restraint use saves lives, as law enforcement officers we see the results every day,” Nebraska State Patrol Superintendent Col. Dave Sankey tells reporters in a conference call. “But we also see the tragic results in those crashes where lives would have been saved and injuries prevented had those vehicle occupants just taken the few seconds to buckle up.”
In 2012, 212 people died on Nebraska roads, a jump from 2011 numbers. In 2011, 181 people died in traffic crashes on Nebraska roads. Nearly 70 people have been killed in traffic crashes this year.
Nebraska Department of Roads Director Randy Peters says a mild winter might have contributed to a high early death toll.
“When you get a mild winter, it kind of works counter-intuitively, but people are out there driving when they ordinarily would be at home, so you get off to an earlier start with these numbers,” says Nebraska Department of Roads Director Randy Peters.
Nebraskans seem to be buckling up less often. The Division of Highway Safety reports that 79% of the state’s drivers and passengers are wearing their seat belts, down from 84% in 2011.
Nebraska has joined the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign, which began May 20th, ahead of the three-day holiday weekend. In Nebraska, 62 law enforcement agencies throughout the state will deploy extra personnel to enforce traffic laws, with a special emphasis on seat belts and child restraints.
Drivers also are encouraged to move over for emergency vehicles, slow down for construction zones and remove distractions.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]