East Texans buckling up before getting behind the wheel

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) –Are East Texans finally getting the message?

"A lot of people have been wearing seat belts," said Sergeant Sergio Luna with the Angelina County Sheriff's Department.

Law enforcement is seeing many more accidents but fewer deaths and injuries. In fact, nearly six in seven adults buckle up. That's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials say it's because drivers are simply more aware of how quickly an accident can happen and the many distractions that cause them.

"Inexperienced drivers, drinking and driving, a lot of people using cell phones, texting while they're driving," listed Luna.

"The media and the news pushing you know safety precautions and stuff like that I think a lot more people have gotten the message on how much safer it actually is to wear your seat belt than to not," said driver David Jones, 19.

Sgt. Luna and Detective Tom Matthews know too well that life can change in the blink of an eye.

"Our vehicle was spun around, a total 360," recalled Matthews.

Nearly two years ago, they were involved in a crash during a pursuit. It proved for Matthews that the road is always unpredictable.

"You think you've got control and you really don't," he said.

One thing they did control -- fastening their seatbelts.

"Without out seat belts both of us could have been seriously injured," said Matthews.

"It can stop you from being ejected in a vehicle or bouncing around in a vehicle when you get hit," said Luna.

Seeing their share of deadly accidents, they say living through their own opened their eyes.

Luna says a strict reminder is worth it, if he can save a life.

"Put your seat belt on or get a ticket for it," said Luna.

The same study reports about 85 % of drivers wear seat belts. That's up more than 5% from the same study, six years earlier.

©2010 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.