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Public Safety Officials Want to Lower Traffic Deaths

By Daniel Cherry | Published 26 May 2011 09:49am | comments

Mississippi State Troopers are stepping up patrols during the Memorial Day weekend. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how Public Safety officers hope the Click it or Ticket campaign will reduce the number of driving deaths for another year.

Of all the drivers and passengers killed on the roads last year, more more than 60 percent didn't fasten their belts. Brian Pearse lost both of his children to an accident in 07. Now he speaks to parents urging them to make sure their teens buckle up.

"Those were my only two children. There are children in my life that I can reach and touch, but still, I'll never be a grandfather. I'll never have that first dance with my daughter at her wedding. I'll never give my son advice on how to be a father."

Last year Mississippi saw six hundred and forty one traffic fatalities. John Kalahar, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety says this weekend the Highway Patrol will be putting 250 extra state troopers on the roads through June 5th.

"Sometimes the message doesn't get through, but we hope that it does and it doesn't have to take a bad traffic accident or even a death to get people to change their habits. So we're doing campaigns like Click It or Ticket so it won't come to that hopefully."

Mississippi has the highest rate of traffic fatalities among teenagers in the nation, and last year, more than 80 percent of teens killed on the roads weren't buckled up. Georgia Chakiris with the National Highway Safety Administration says they want to get the word out young people.

"It is the number one cause of death for young people, and so it is a serious issue. And as belt use is lower here in Mississippi, it means belt use is even lower for the young people."

A recent study by Mississippi State University found four out of every five Mississippians wear their seatbelts, but that's still below the national average. Each year since the traffic blitz began, fatalities have gone down in Mississippi.

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