Valdosta - Fifty-three year old Richard Green of Virginia was killed over the holiday weekend after being thrown from his Ford Explorer on I-75 in Lowndes County.
But one simple safety precaution could have saved his life. "It's my understanding that no one in that vehicle was wearing a seat belt," said Sgt. Michael Reece, Georgia State Patrol.
Green is one of 14 people who died in traffic accidents on Georgia highways during the July 4th weekend. Troopers predicted 19 fatalities. The number of injuries was also less than predicted, but the accident count was up. "We predicted 1893, but we actually had 2453 wrecks," said Reece.
Reece credits the decrease in injuries and fatalities to two factors. "We think the number of injuries and fatalities were down due to the increased use of seat belts and more cars with air bags."
He says wearing a seat belt increases your risk of escaping injury by 80 percent. "When you're ejected from a vehicle, you're traveling in a certain direction and guess what's coming behind you, your car," said Reece. "By simply wearing your seat belt, you're going to stay in the vehicle and most likely avoid serious injury."
Sgt. Reece has seen countless accidents where this is proven true. He says, "You wouldn't think that anybody could've lived through it if you had seen pictures from these accidents, but the seat belt kept the person in the car and saved their life."
The numbers of accidents, injuries, and fatalities were all down from last year's July 4th weekend. Troopers hope motorists are learning from others' mistakes and rememberingto buckle up.