Fasten up this summer driving season, WSP says

Statistics show a startling correlation between not belting and injuries, even death

PORT ORCHARD — A recent accident on eastbound State Route 16 near Mullenix Road in South Kitsap should be a reminder to drivers to wear their seatbelts before heading out on the roads this summer, according to the Washington State Patrol.

State Patrol District 8 Capt. James Mjor said a 31-year-old Poulsbo woman suffered serious injuries while driving, then crashing, her vehicle after allegedly falling asleep at the wheel July 11. Thankfully, Mjor said her injuries were not life-threatening.

“WSP takes a no-tolerance approach to not wearing this important lifesaving piece of vehicle equipment,” Mjor said in a news release.

“Data consistently supports that by using your seatbelt, you significantly increase the likelihood of surviving, including even some of the most moderate of vehicle collisions. We must not forget the importance of child safety, as well, when it comes to protecting our most important asset — our children.”

According to the Washington State Traffic Commission, 22 percent of all traffic deaths involved someone who was not wearing a seatbelt. Troopers said in District 8, which includes Kitsap County, only 3 percent of drivers from January 2014 to June 2019 were not wearing their seatbelts. However, of the fatality collisions during that time, unbelted drivers constituted 42 percent of the fatalities. And 39 percent of serious injury collisions involved unbelted passengers and drivers.

So far this summer, according to Trooper Chelsea Hodgson, two drivers were ejected from their vehicles in collisions at the end of June, resulting in both being airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with serious injuries. This month, she said, four unbelted drivers were seriously hurt and one was killed.