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Too many drivers still unbuckled
Seatbelts have been standard equipment in cars for nearly 50 years, but too many of us leave them unbuckled.
It took a combination of nagging and tough law enforcement, but an estimated 85 percent of Nebraska drivers wore safety belts in 2010, according to the Nebraska Department of Roads.
The rest find all sorts of reasons not to buckle up -- claustrophobia, fear of being trapped in the vehicle, personal rights -- but the statistics aren't on their side.
Yes, there are isolated instances when drivers have died because they were trapped by their seatbelts, but 68 percent of Nebraska car accident deaths in 2010 happened because the victim didn't wear a seat belt.
Unfortunately, the trend seems to be continuing two years later, and the number of fatalities is up. Twenty people have died since Jan. 1, compared to eight in the same period in 2011.
Two recent local fatalities involved drivers who didn't wear seat belts, and another is drawing attention because it involved a policeman on his way to work.
The 37-year-old officer was known for taking a stand against seat belts, and paid for it with his life when he was involved in an accident while commuting along Interstate 80 from York to his job in Lincoln.
"This is a topic that we will be talking about in our command staff meeting," Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong told the Journal Star.
Nebraska has recently implemented laws encouraging the use of ignition interlocks to prevent drivers with DUI convictions from starting their cars.
The United States once went so far as to require seatbelts to be buckled before allowing cars to start, but there was such as uproar that the regulation was quickly repealed.
Since then, all sorts of technological advances have become part of the driving experience -- airbags, antilock braking system, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, adaptive cruise control and radar collision avoidance, lane warning and other equipment.
Perhaps it is time to revisit the ignition interlock issue again.