Buckle up. Seat belts save lives.
That’s the message of an annual statewide campaign that started this week, just before thousands of motorists hit the road during Labor Day weekend, and ends Sept. 8.
As part of the campaign, volunteers will be handing out dollar bills to drivers who have all occupants buckled up securely in their vehicle. They will be handing out a total of $8,000 in 56 cities across Kansas, including Lawrence, Baldwin City and Eudora.
Those riding unrestrained will receive educational materials about the effectiveness of seat belts and child safety seats in saving lives and reducing injuries.
Last year, 382 people died on Kansas roads, and 50 percent of them weren’t wearing seat belts.
According to the 2011 Kansas Department of Transportation Safety Belt survey, 83 percent of those surveyed ages 14 and older were wearing their seat belts. This compares to the national average of 84 percent. In Douglas County, the survey found 81 percent of adults buckled up — a drop from 84 percent the year before. Meanwhile, 90 percent of children in Douglas County were appropriately buckled up.
John Drees, a registered nurse and community education specialist for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, said the emergency room treats about 1,000 adults involved in motor vehicle crashes each year and about 30 children.
“The children are all in their safety seats,” Drees said. “It works. You just have to apply it.
“The bottom line is there’s less suffering, less injury, less death and also less money spent on health care issues when you buckle up. It’s just the smart thing to do.”