Dougherty County among best at buckling up - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty County among best at buckling up

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June 23, 2005

Albany -- The state average for seat belt usage is only 76 percent. Drivers in Dougherty County are buckled up, but still eleven people have died in car crashes so far this year.

 Linda Cooper buckles up each time she gets behind the wheel. Linda Cooper said "Because I feel it's safer, and less chance of going through the windshield."

Cooper is like the overwhelming majority of women in Dougherty County, and wears a seat belt. The latest survey of seat belt usage done in May, shows that 97 percent of women were buckled up.

The Governor's Office of Highway Safety does the survey's twice a year,watching several intersections around Dougherty County for two weeks.

Are you wearing your seat belt? "No." Why not? "Cause you don't have to wear them in a truck, and I don't believe in them." Jason Hoover of Albany does not wear a seat belt while driving his pick up truck, which is legal under Georgia law.

Hoover said  "I believe it should be your choice. If you want to wear it on, put it on. If you don't, don't put it on."

 86 percent of the men in the latest Albany survey were found to be wearing seat belts. But only 70 percent of drivers and passengers in pickup trucks were wearing seat belts.

Safe Community Coordinator Michele DeMott said "I think you're much safer and your chances of being injured in a motor vehicle crash decline by 50 percent if you are buckled up."

So far in 2005, there have been 11 people killed in car crashes. Four of those people were unsecured. But experts say seat belts give you a better chance of surviving a car crash. DeMott said "We know that seat belts save lives."

Still Hoover says he chooses not to buckle up. Hoover said "It should not be a state law. Only on children. If you are a grown person, you shouldn't have to wear one."

Linda Cooper demands everyone in her car wear a seat belt. Cooper said "Cause I want them to be safe also."

In 2001 only 73 percent of people in Dougherty County cars were buckled up. For the last three years survey's of seat belt usage have held steady at 92 percent.

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