RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – It is the start of the month of October, and state officials are urging drivers to buckle up before hitting the road.
The North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program director Mark Ezzell said October is statistically the deadliest month for crashes on North Carolina roads.
“I think that’s for a number of reasons. Fall is a lovely time to be out driving around North Carolina. The weather is beautiful. The time is also changing so that can be a little more difficult and challenging,” Ezzell said.
He said studies show more people are also not wearing their seat belt before hitting the road.
“What we found in last year’s survey is that for the first time in three years, our statewide rate has dipped below 90 percent. Generally, our seatbelt use rate has been around 92 percent. Last year it was 88.4. We don’t know exactly why,” Ezzell said.
Researchers are now conducting a study to better understand why more people are not buckling up.
“Here in the Triangle, rates went up slightly so we feel like the message is getting out as it should be around here. But we really want to make sure that all of our drivers, especially our young drivers, buckle up and in the fall,” said Ezzell.
The director said the study will take place in several counties, primarily in North Carolina’s larger metropolitan areas such as Mecklenburg County, which has experienced a sharp decline of nearly eight percent.
Wearing your seat belt greatly increases your opportunity for survival if you are involved in a vehicle crash.
“You should always wear a seat belt. It’s a simple, simple act, but we find in North Carolina that out of our fatalities in North Carolina, about 40 percent do not wear their belt. That is ridiculous,” Ezzell said.
Seat belt use rate results are necessary to qualify for federal seat belt incentive grants. Those federal funds are used for initiatives that support the elimination of preventable roadway deaths across North Carolina.
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