MoDOT advises against driving without a seat belt

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JEFFERSON CITY- Fatalities on Missouri roads are up from this time last year, according to MoDOT.

As of Thursday, there have been 161 fatalities, compared to 149 on the same day in 2014. 

Of the 161 fatalities, 107 people were not wearing seat belts.

"It is a very high number, we've been struggling with that for some time," said Scott Jones, occupant protection coordinator for MoDOT.

He said the percentage of fatalities that were unbuckled has hovered around 65 percent for the last few years.

Jones said he is unsure why the percentage of fatalities that are unbuckled remains so high.

"It's not even five seconds; it's just a matter of a second or two for that simple click of the seat belt," he said.

Jones said the National Highway Safety Administration estimates that a fatality on Missouri's roads costs about $3.1 million. Cleaning up the crash, medical expenses, lawsuits, lost wages and insurance all contribute to that figure.

Jones said the reason some people might choose to not wear a seatbelt is having the ability to escape if their car is submerged in water, but he said the number of people who actually drown in a submerged car is small.

"You've got pretty good odds of being in a crash in your lifetime," Jones said. "And even if you're the best driver out there, you've got to look out for the next person."

Currently, wearing a seatbelt is a secondary law in Missouri. That means that a person gets a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt when pulled over for another reason, but cannot be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt.

Jones said MoDOT is pushing for legislation that would allow police to pull over drivers for not wearing their seat belts.