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Shelby tops region's seatbelt survey

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By Nathan L. McBroom

When John Evans was a bachelor, he rarely wore his seatbelt.

He said his habit was to just hop in his truck and go.

But when he became a family man, his days of not being buckled in came to an end.

"When you start having kids, wearing your seatbelt becomes more of a priority," he said. "It's just a given."

A recent study performed by the Kentucky State Police, found that, like Evans, wearing a seatbelt is a high priority for most people in Shelby County.

For the second year in a row, Shelby County has had the highest percent of seatbelt use in the seven-county region of Kentucky State Police Post 12.

According to the data, 87 percent of drivers and passengers in the county wear a seatbelt while riding in a vehicle. Last year the percentage increased by 7 percent and put Shelby 4 percent higher than second place Spencer County and 18 percent above Anderson and Scott County.

The KSP recorded the data by sending out officers to monitor motorists' use of seatbelts. Data was also collected from collision reports.

Kentucky State Trooper Ronald Turley said seatbelt use has been on the rise in recent years, and for good reason.

Turley said while wearing a seatbelt will not decrease the number or likelihood of accidents, it has cut down on the number of fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents.

Turley said seatbelts help to hold the passengers in place in the event of an accident.

Often victims will lose their lives during an accident because their head will hit windshield or because they were jolted out of their seat or even out of their vehicle, Turley said.

As of Jan. 1, 2007 not wearing a seatbelt in Kentucky is a primary violation for which police can make traffic stops. Local and state law enforcement officers said that seatbelt use dramatically increased last year when that state law went into effect.

Turley said last year 50 lives were saved because of the seatbelt law and more will saved as seatbelt use increases.

For the last three years the number of fatalities in the county has steadily decreased. In 2005 there were eight fatalities, in 2006 there were seven and last year there were six.