Our Opinion: Buckle up! Avoid plunging into danger

If a person began each day climbing to the roof of a three-story building and walking precariously along the edge, the behavior might be considered risky and foolish.

What about the person who drives to work without fastening a seat belt?

The two scenarios are surprisingly similar.

An unbelted occupant of a vehicle involved in a 30-mph crash hits the windshield or other surface with the same impact as a fall from a three-story building, according to facts provided by the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Other harrowing facts from the agency about failure to wear seat belts include:

• Unbelted occupants have died in crashes at speeds as low as 12 mph.

• The effectiveness of air bags drops 40 percent when a seat belt is not used.

• Traffic crashes nationwide kill about five people every hour and, in Missouri, one person every nine hours.

• Seat belts would have saved the lives of more than half the car passengers killed each year.

• An unbuckled driver’s chance of being killed in a traffic crash is 42 times greater than that of a driver who is buckled up.

We remind motorists of these compelling safety reasons so we may add another component — enforcement.

Jefferson City police on Friday joined other law enforcement agencies for an aggressive “Click It or Ticket” effort to encourage seat belt use.

The effort was part of a continuing campaign to encourage seat belt use — a simple practice still ignored by about one in four motorists.

The statistics demonstrate the danger of ignoring seat belts.

Next time you get in a vehicle, picture yourself on the edge of a three-story building.

Then buckle up.

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