Lufkin district sees increase in unrestrained fatalities

Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the number of deaths from drivers not wearing seatbelts has increased in the Lufkin district.

The Lufkin district covers nine counties, and within those counties, the numbers have grown since 2015.

Greg Sims said nine years ago a seatbelt saved his life when a drunk driver hit him head on.

"He actually went up over the top of my car and crushed the driver side of my car," Sims said.

Sims said doctors told him buckling up was the game changer.

"Anybody not wearing a seatbelt in that kind of accident would not have survived," Sims said.

Even though the Click It or Ticket safety campaign has come to an end, TxDOT continues to warn the community on the dangers of not buckling up.

"The research shows that fatality rates are higher on rural roadways," said TxDOT Spokesperson Rhonda Oaks. "With the Lufkin district being a rural district, it stands to reason why we see more fatalities here."

Last year alone, 32 percent of fatalities were related to not wearing a seatbelt, and this year the number of deaths increased to 38.6 percent.

"So far from September until now, we've had 67 fatalities in the Lufkin district," Oaks said. "Twenty-two of those were unrestrained and that's alarming."

As of now, the number of deaths due to not wearing a seatbelt are over the numbers of 2015 and 2016, but Oaks believes the only way to lower those numbers is to continue educating people.

"There are no do-overs in a crash," said Oaks. "You've got to make a choice."

Sims is glad he made the right choice back in 2009.

He shares his story in hopes others will make the right choice as well.

"Any excuse you can give on why you shouldn't, I can give you one good one on why you should," Sims said.

Research shows that if you wear a seatbelt, it increases the chance of surviving a crash by 60 percent.

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