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story.lead_photo.caption FILE: A Holts Summit police cruiser. Photo by Emil Lippe / Fulton Sun.

HOLTS SUMMIT — The Holts Summit Police Department recently received grant funding to join with state law enforcement May 24-June 6 in the Click It or Ticket mobilization. HSPD plans to use the funds to further enforce Missouri's seat belt law.

More than six out of 10 people who died in 2020 Missouri traffic crashes were unbuckled, according to the news release. HSPD Lt. Brandon Ruediger emphasized that even with all of the advancements in car safety, "the seat belt remains a person's single greatest defense in the event of a crash."

Although rates of seat belt usage have improved over the years, there has also been an increase in traffic crashes statewide. Traffic fatalities in Missouri increased by 12 percent in 2020 with 989 lives lost, compared to 881 in 2019, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol. In May, the Patrol reported 329 fatalities in Missouri in 2021, nearly 70 percent of those which were unrestrained.

Missouri also falls below the national average in usage with a 86.1 percent seat belt use, compared to a 90.7 percent national average. The highest demographics among those — teens and truck drivers.

"Teens and pickup truck drivers are among those least likely to buckle up at 75.5 and 71.6 percent, respectfully," the release said.

In the past year, MoDOT started the Show-Me Zero campaign, which aims to reduce the number of traffic fatalities in the state, with seat belt usage being one key area.

"Nearly every day someone dies in a Missouri traffic crash because they weren't buckled up," Ruediger said. "We will be pulling out all the stops to help ensure motorists are making the smart decision to buckle up."

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