Seat belt use on the rise in Nebraska

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The Department of Transportations reports that seatbelt use is on the rise in Nebraska. Nebraskans are said to use their seatbelts 85% of the time.

Drivers at the Westfield Shopping Center Friday were wearing their seatbelts about half the time. Tenaj Erickson arrived at the grocery store without a seatbelt. When asked why, she said she always wears her seatbelt when she has her daughter with her. Today she was alone.

Erickson's daughter is seven and rides in a booster seat.

"I like to set an example for her, " said Erickson. When asked how her daughter would feel if she were to die in an accident from non-seatbelt use, Erickson pondered and said she had not thought about it that way.

"I will wear my seatbelt all the time now, " said Erickson. And when she returned from the store - she buckled up.

Several people reported buckling up on the interstate, but that they did not see a need in town. When asked why, Jacob Buck said, "It's a personal choice." Buck said he (like Erickson) wears his seatbelt around his kids, and expects them to.

"They cannot legislate morality," said Buck. "No matter how many rules there are, people can still get hurt." He reasoned that he is a defensive driver and considers every car a potential "drunk driver.." When asked the same questions Erickson was asked, he said, "I'm going to really think about this."

In 2016, 218 people died on Nebraska highways. 13 of those were in Lincoln County. 11 were in vehicles equipped with seatbelts, but six who died were not utilizing the safety feature.

"It is well known that when safety belts are worn they reduce the risk of fatality to front-seat passengers by 45% and light truck passengers by 60%." - Mark Segerstrom, Nebraska Safety Council.