Buckling up should be a no-brainer

Published 12:07 am Friday, May 23, 2014

New research shows a not-so-surprising old belief to be fact: seat belts save lives.

Despite what could commonly be described as a no-brainer, Mississippians appear to be wearing seat belts less and less.

Data from the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety indicates seat belt use in the state declined last year — 74.4 percent in 2013, down from 83 percent in 2012.

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Neighboring Alabama had a whopping 97.3 percent usage rate based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Louisiana’s seat belt rate was 82.5 percent.

Additionally, Mississippi’s Public Safety Commissioner told the Associated Press that of the 582 traffic fatalities the Mississippi Highway Patrol worked, more than half involved drivers or passengers that were not wearing seat belts.

Seat belts save lives. It’s that simple.

Yet, bafflingly, thousands and thousands of Mississippians seem to ignore this fact. The result costs all of us as many of those injured and killed do not have medical insurance coverage and thus run up hospital costs for the rest of us.

We’d be willing to bet that of the approximately quarter of Mississippi’s population that doesn’t buckle up, someone out there loves them enough to fuss at them and guilt them into strapping in when they get behind the wheel.

Rather than simply looking the other way, we all need to get involved and tell people to buckle up. It’s not only the law, but it also makes common sense and economic sense, too.