Seatbelts not worn in majority of South Carolina traffic fatalities

By: Diane Cho Email
By: Diane Cho Email

February 5, 2007

AIKEN CTY, S.C.---One Aiken County teen is dead and another badly hurt after an early morning wreck on Banks Mill Road.

Police say they were not wearing seatbelts when their truck hit a tree.

It's no secret that seatbelts are the first line of defense in a traffic accident, but far too often drivers forgo the decision to use them...and it ends up costing them their lives.

South Carolina Highway Patrol officers were back on the scene this afternoon trying to recreate just what went wrong before the two veered off the road, and just how 18-year-old Patrick Darr's truck ended up in a tree.

Whether Darr was speeding or drinking at the time remains unclear, and so does the reason 19-year-old David Allen chose not to buckle up.

"We're off to a rough start for 2007, and it's a cause for concern for this office," Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton told News 12.

Carlton says so far this year, seven people have been killed on the roadways. Six of them were not wearing their seatbelts.

"Right now there's no real good grasp of what's happening in fatalities, but teens get the brunt of bad driving," he said. "But it's across the board."

Another example is the fatal crash last weekend, when 18-year-old Martha Kelly lost control of her car and killed not just herself, but her older brother too after both of them were ejected from the vehicle.

Neither were buckled in.

"Seatbelts do save lives," said Sherrie Johnson of Southland Driving Academy. "All you can do is tell (teenagers to wear their seatbelts); you can't make them."

State troopers say even though the Seatbelt Law was enacted in 2005, 70% of the drivers involved in fatal crashes did not use seatbelts.

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