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Mississippi Cops Increase Seat Belt Enforcement

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 18 May 2012 04:27pm | comments

Mississippi drivers are more than three and a half times as likely to die not wearing a seat belt during a car crash than the average American. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports police officers across the state are upping their efforts to get people to buckle up.

Police departments across the state have received federal grant money to up their enforcement of seat belt violations.

Lt. Mark Sandridge with the Madison County Sheriff's Office says they are using that money to put more cops on the road.

"Right now we have been preparing for this click-or-ticket campaign. We are doing the Occupant Protection Grant. this grant will also us to work some overtime and put officers on the street to specifically target seat belt and child restraint violations," sandridge said.

8 out of 10 Mississippians wear a seat belt in the car....at the same time more than 60-percent of people that died in a car crash in Mississippi in 20-10 were not wearing a seat belt.

Even failing to fully use a seat belt can be dangerous as Sonia Fogal learned when she broke her back during a car crash in 1997 because she wasn't wearing her seat belt properly.

"It held me in place but had I had the chest restraint on my body would not have propelled forward. And exactly where the lap belt is is where my level of injury is. I am an L4 L5 incomplete spinal cord injury and that is exactly the level of the lap belt," Fogal said.

Officers will also be checking children and young passengers in cars.

More than 80-percent of 10-to-19 year olds who died in a car crash in 2010 were not wearing seat belts.

Jennifer Steven with Batson Children's Hospital in Jackson says set belts are the cure to devastating injuries.

"The thing that breaks my heart is the non-fatal injuries. Because there are so many children trying to recover from severe head trauma, broken bones, lacerated abdominal organs and definitely the spinal cord injuries that go along with it," Steven said.

Because of death and injury, traffic crashes cost the state more than 2-billion dollars a year.

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