Highway Patrol cracks down on seat belt violators

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - For the next two weeks, law enforcement agencies across the country will be cracking down on people who don't wear their seat belts. In the Palmetto State, troopers are kicking off the Buckle Up South Carolina campaign.

Starting Monday, troopers will sweep the streets for seat belt violators as part of the agency's annual two-week blitz. The South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCHP) says this year the agency is focusing on nighttime offenders.

The SCHP reports that last year, nearly 64 percent of people killed at night were unbuckled at the time of the crash, compared to 49 percent who were not wearing a seatbelt and killed during daytime crashes.

SCHP Lance Corporal Sonny Collins says many people think officers don't notice safety belt use after dark. Collins says they do, and the agency is pushing to reduce the number of nighttime, unbelted fatalities. The goal of the Buckle Up South Carolina campaign is to raise awareness about seat belt law and remind people before the start of the heavy summer traffic: buckling up can save lives.

"When a car goes out of control, we know that your best option is to stay in that seat and held inside the vehicle," " explained Collins. "Because if you're ejected from the car, you're seven times more likely to die from that crash."

Even though this year the agency will increase patrols when the sun comes down, Collins points out the seat belt law applies for every trip, every time, day or night.

"These crashes are not just happening on long trips or when you're going out of town, it can happen when you're traveling to the grocery store or wherever you're going. So anytime any trip you leave the house, we want you to be buckled up," added Collins.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol reports last year was a record-breaking year for seatbelt usage reaching 90 percent. SCHP's message today: there is still room for improvement. The Buckle Up South Carolina campaign will run through June 2.

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