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Seatbelt emphasis patrols begin here May 23

Saving money can be as easy as wearing a seatbelt. People cannot only save money by avoiding a $124 ticket, but it is the best defense in helping save lives in the event of a crash.

Between 2005 and 2009, 2,866 people died in vehicle collisions in Washington state and another 13,749 were seriously injured.

The good news is that traffic deaths among motor vehicle occupants have fallen 32 percent and serious injuries are down 27 percent on Washington roadways since 2002. In spite of these dramatic strides, police cannot afford to waiver on seatbelt enforcement now.

That's why, between Monday, May 23, and Sunday, June 5, motorists can expect to see law enforcement patrolling city and county roadways in search of unbuckled or improperly buckled drivers and passengers.

The Sunnyside, Grandview, Selah, Union Gap, Yakama Nation and Yakima Police Departments, the Yakima County Sheriff's Office and the Washington State Patrol will be participating in these extra patrols, with the support of the Yakima County Target Zero Traffic Safety Task Force.

"Law enforcement officers would rather have motorists buckle up than write a seatbelt infraction," said Lowell Porter, Director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

"The evidence is clear that seatbelts save lives. By increasing seatbelt use, Washington continues to reduce the costs incurred by those who don't buckle up."

Statistical analysis shows that wearing a seatbelt decreases the chance of dying or being seriously injured in a collision by about 70 percent, compared to an unbuckled motorist. Medical costs from vehicle collisions amount to more than $276 million each year in this state and vast sums of money have been saved by getting motorists to buckle up.

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