Law enforcement agencies advise wearing seat belts as summer approaches

Posted at 5:50 PM, May 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-06 19:50:23-04

The beginning of the summer travel season is right around the corner and law enforcement officers are reminding people to drive safe and buckle up.

The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO), the Helena Police Department (HPD), and the Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) are increasing patrols from May 20 to June 2 as a part of the national ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign.

Agencies will use the extra patrols to help educate people on proper seat belt use and crackdown on motorists who don’t buckle-up.

“There is no excuse for not wearing a seat belt. Just as we want to go home to our friends and families at the end of the day, we want all Montanans to make it to their destination safely,” said Sheriff Leo Dutton.

“We respond to too many crashes where serious, life-changing injuries and deaths are shattering families. It can happen to you. Montana has made progress in reducing fatal crashes over the last five years, but we can do better,” said Interim HPD Chief Steve Hagen.

In Montana, the summer months are the deadliest time of the year with around 45 percent of all fatal crashes happening between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

LCSO Patrol Captain Kevin Wright said not only is it the law to wear your seat belt, it is also the best way to keep a person safe in an accident.

“When there’s a crash and they’re not seat belted in, they become an object that’s bouncing around inside that vehicle or they get ejected,” Wright said.

He added he’s seen several wrecks where seat belts saved people’s lives.

“I’ve personally been on some scenes where if you were to look at the vehicle and you would think there’s no way someone walked away from that crash,” noted Wright. “But because they were properly seat belted they’re in that safe, almost cocoon, and they’re able to make it out alive.”

While road fatalities are down compared to last year, as of May 5, 2019, there have been 33 fatalities on Montana roads year to date.

Montana saw a total of 181 traffic fatalities in 2018.

-Reported by John Riley/MTN News