The Nebraska Department of Roads says traffic fatalities during the first seven weeks of 2013 are up 56 percent compared to the same time frame in 2009 through 2012.
39 people have died as a result of traffic crashes in Nebraska as of Monday. 31 of those deaths were in rural areas. AAA Nebraska spokeswoman Rose White says in many of those accidents, there’s a common factor: not wearing a safety belt.
“Many of the crashes are rollover vehicles, and in those situations, that’s when the safety belt is certainly the most valuable tool in your vehicle. And so for that reason, we’re just urging all motorists to buckle up. Some of the cases are weather-related, but clearly most of them are rollover crashes.”
White says many deaths in traffic crashes can be prevented by wearing safety belts and reducing distractions.
“As we know, there are many tools available to us today, electronic tools, that can distract us from what we need to be concentrating on, and that’s the roadway up ahead and what’s occurring around our vehicles. And so certainly when you get inside your vehicle, turn off your cell phone and avoid those distractions that take your mind off the road and your hands off the wheel.”
Two bills in a Nebraska legislative committee would make failure to wear a seatbelt a primary offense. That means drivers could be pulled over and ticketed solely for not wearing a safety belt.
Both measures are stalled in the Transportation Committee.