Twin Falls Police Department sees a decrease in seat belt usage

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Twin Falls Police Department started cracking down on seat belt safety in September, measuring how many people wear seat belts in the city. Since then, drivers are wearing less of the safety belts.

Sgt. Ryan Howe of the Twin Falls Police Department said the percentage dropped down.

"I believe we dropped down to 77 percent," he said.

In a few months, the city seat belt usage dropped from 83.5 percent, almost a six percent decrease.

The signs going into the city show the difference the current usage compared to the record and only changes when there is a significant difference.

"We didn't want to discourage people from wearing seat belts," Howe said.

Howe said the surveys on seat belt usage is done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They go out and have people count traffic, the kinds of vehicles driven and whether they are male or female.

Shannon Downling is visiting Twin Falls for a week to BASE jump. She drove three hours from Salt Lake City after flying in from Canada and says she always wears her seat belt.

"It's really important to be safety conscience and not to take unnecessary risks," she said.

She said, like BASE jumping, life does involve many risks, but she would rather choose which ones to take.

"To hurt yourself doing something like driving your car, if it's something that could've been prevented as simple as wearing a seat belt, I think it's just not worth it," Downling said.

Driving and not wearing a seat belt can result in a ticket. If someone over 18 is not wearing a seat belt, it's a $10 ticket. If they are under 18, it's $66.50.

"It's not as much the idea that the number that's going down. It's the number of people (that) could have been saved if they wore their seat belts," Howe continued. "If we can increase those numbers, I think we could actually save a lot of lives."

As for the numbers dropping, Howe said there can be different reasons.

"Maybe we didn't continue to enforce the way that we should, or we didn't get the message out," he said. "We're trying to keep people safer. I wish people would wear their seat belts."

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