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Aggressive law enforcement drive underway today promoting seat belts
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Feb. 25, 2010) — For those who don’t like to buckle their seatbelts, today is the wrong day to be driving. Waynesville and St. Robert police both issued nearly identical press releases earlier this month announcing their participation in the quarterly “Click it or Ticket” seat belt enforcement campaign, during which police officers aggressively seek to enforce usage of seat belts in vehicles in Missouri. Pulaski County Sheriff J.B. King will also be participating in the campaign, intended by state officials to reduce Missouri’s rate of injuries and fatalities from failure to use seat belts. According to the press releases from law enforcement, 489 people killed in traffic crashes in 2008 weren’t wearing their seat belts, and Missouri has a lower than average rate of seat belt usage. Nationally, 84 percent of motorists use seat belts; that rate is only 77 percent in Missouri. Aggressive enforcement of seat belt usage is good, according to Pulaski County Ambulance District Director Gary Carmack. Carmack, who was at one time a police officer and is still the county’s deputy coroner, said he’s been at far too many crashes in which people were killed or injured who might not have been if they’d been wearing their seat belts. “In my opinion, of all the things that we talk about and that the media tries to use for public education to save lives and to lessen injuries that could be lifelong injuries and disabilities, I believe that seat belts and appropriate restraints are something I feel so strongly about because of my career as a paramedic,” Carmack said. “I remember making ambulance runs as a paramedic, I would get out and see crashes that formerly would have been just disasterous. When people would have the restraints on appropriately, we could get them out of the cars or they would get out of the cars with virtually no injuries or minor injuries.” Carmack said he’s a firm believer in seat belts and wouldn’t want to drive without one even if they weren’t required. “It’s one of the number one things we can do to save lives and reduce trauma,” Carmack said. “I remember one day I pulled up to an injury accident out on the interstate where a car had went over a pretty deep embankment and had rolled over, and I remember as I was getting out of the ambulance, ‘Oh, gosh, what am I going to find when I get down to the bottom of this hill,’ and interestingly, as I was going down the hill with my jump kid, the people started climbing out of the cars … they were all fine, and I honestly believe that in that particular crash, due to the mechanism of it, in another day where they did not have the restraints on, I believe there would have been serious injuries or possibly even a fatality.” Some people continue to fear being trapped in crashes by seat belts. Carmack said that is extremely rare, but there are options even if the seat belt locks. “I personally have not had the experience of somebody not being able to get out, and then once in a while, someone will say they’ll be trapped inside there and burn or something, but I’ve made a lot of calls, both as a paramedic and a coroner and I’ve never seen that,” Carmack said. “But if you did have concerns about that, you could always purchase a seat belt cutter.” Pocket knives will also work to cut a seat belt though they pose the danger of laceration, Carmack said. Click here to follow the Pulaski County Daily News on Twitter Click here to follow the Pulaski County Daily News on Facebook Click here to comment for local opinion

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