COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - New numbers from Highway Patrol show an increase in the amount of people dying on South Carolina roadways because they did not wear a seat belt.
As of October 15th, 549 people died in crashes and had access to seat belts. Of those that died, 279 were not wearing seat belts.
That number is up year to date from 2017 totals where 526 died in crashes and had access to seatbelts and of those, 251 were not wearing seat belts.
On Wednesday, WIS crews went to Lexington County, which currently ranks second in the state in traffic fatalities with more than 50 roadway deaths in 2018.
WIS searched for people not wearing their seat belt. A few who appeared to not be buckled up were caught on camera.
Trooper David Jones, with the South Carolina Highway Patrol was interviewed for the story and said he easily spotted more than a dozen, two dozen people in about 30 minutes.
While Jones says the amount of people in compliance with seat belt laws has gone up over the years, the new statistics of road way deaths are still concerning.
“When you look at statistics wise and you say that half of the fatalities that we’ve worked so far this year had access to, the occupants had access to seat belts, but over half made that decision not to buckle up, we know that there could be people still alive today that get to share another holiday, who gets to hug their loved one, who gets to sit at a Thanksgiving table with their family if they just made the conscious effort just to put their seatbelt on,” Jones said.
A citation for not wearing a seat belt is $25.
We asked Trooper Jones if he believes the citation should be increased. Jones says they will enforce the laws in place and use the traffic citation as a teaching moment to educate on the use of seat belts.