Use your seat belts

Seat belts have been standard equipment in cars for about a half-century now, so it is amazing that police still have to conduct campaigns like the current Click It or Ticket one in Maui County.

A story in this paper said that as many as four vehicles were pulled over at times near Paia on Monday as police wrote tickets for seat belt violations. There is a $102 fine for drivers and passengers who are not wearing seat belts in cars.

We’re astonished every time we read about a fatality in an accident where the victim was thrown from the car. An eminently survivable accident turns into a death on the road because someone didn’t use a seat belt. Last week, a Kihei man who was not wearing a seat belt died in a crash. His passenger, who was wearing one, survived.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that seat belt use reduces crash-related injuries and deaths by 50 percent. The same article on CDC’s website says air bags give added protection but are not a substitute for seat belts.

The CDC says men are 10 percent less likely to wear a seat belt than women and that adults ages 18-34 are less likely to wear one than folks over 35. Even after all the effort at education, 1 in 7 people still does not buckle up when driving.

But the harshest figure we saw was CDC’s report that over half the 33,000 people killed in automotive crashes in 2009 were not wearing seat belts.

Please, avoid the fines of the Click It or Ticket campaign by buckling your seat belt and making sure all your passengers do, too.

More important than avoiding the fines, though, is averting a tragedy this holiday weekend. Make it a habit to put on your seat belt every time you get into a car.

And make sure your family does, too.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.