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Survive a crash: Wear a seat belt

News about highway safety in Ohio came with an implied warning recently for travelers everywhere: Buckle up.

Highways in general have become steadily safer for several years. But traffic fatalities increased during 2015 in Ohio, for the second year in a row. The State Highway Patrol reports 1,057 deaths in car and truck crashes on Buckeye State roads last year, up slightly from the 1,008 total for 2014.

Both years were more dangerous than 2009, when the lowest fatality total since the 1930s, 990, was recorded.

Now for that warning: About 60 percent of the 2015 highway deaths involved people not wearing safety belts. About one-third of them included drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Most people recognize that driving after drinking too much or taking certain drugs is a bad idea. But failing to use safety belts is seen by many as no big deal.

In general, older drivers and passengers tend to buckle up more often than do younger people. And those who live in rural areas use safety belts at lower rates than city dwellers.

Research indicates that using safety belts reduces deaths and serious injuries in vehicle crashes by about 50 percent. Clearly, the odds of surviving an accident are much better for those who buckle up.

Regardless of where you reside, the Ohio statistics are a reminder: Sometimes, you can’t do anything to avoid a crash – but you can do something to survive one.

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