WYDOT, WHP urge travelers to buckle up


43% of this year's fatalities weren't wearing seat belts

A simple choice to buckle up when driving or riding in a vehicle could mean the difference between life or death.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Wyoming Highway Patrol are urging motorists and passengers to always wear their seat belts to help keep them safe while traveling.

Wyoming has had 64 fatalities so far in 2019, which can be attributed to distracted driving, lack of seat belts, alcohol, and several other factors. So far, 43 percent were not wearing their seat belts.

“Safety belt usage in Wyoming is lower than that of the surrounding states, and it is typically lower than the national average,” said Lt. Col. Shannon Ratliff during a May Mobilization event at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center recently. “That is absolutely unacceptable. Without a doubt taking a few seconds to buckle up could be the difference between life and death.”

So far, this year’s fatalities are higher than that of previous years. This time last year there were 36 fatalities and 37 in 2017.

“You hear us say don’t risk it, click it or ticket,” Ratliff said. “Just to be clear, we’re not talking about risking receiving a citation. I wish a ticket would be the only consequence. What we’re talking about is risking your life or the lives of your passengers when you choose not to wear your safety belt or when you permit your passengers to ride with you, unrestrained.”

Total fatalities for an entire year have fluctuated when looking at data over five years.

Wyoming had 111 total fatalities in 2018. There were 123 in 2017, 112 in 2016, 145 in 2015 and 150 in 2014, statistics from WYDOT’s Highway Safety Program indicated.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists several reasons why people should always wear their seat belts.

• Buckling up keeps you secure in your vehicle. A person can be ejected from their vehicle if they are not wearing their seat belts.

• Air bags alone do not provide enough protection. The force from an airbag can cause serious injury or kill a person who is not buckled up.

• Buckling up in the front seat of a passenger car can reduce your risk of a fatal injury by 45 percent and moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.

• Buckling up in a light truck can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 60 percent and moderate to critical injury by 65 percent.

• Safety belts and airbags are designed to work together to ensure you have the best chance of survival if involved in a serious vehicle crash.  

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