Fatal crashes increase in 2014

By: Hannah Paczkowski

It takes two seconds and it could separate you from life or death: wearing a seatbelt.

“What we're seeing is unfortunately people are dying literally a mile or 2 from their house on a gravel road or something like that or even in town,” Capt. Lance Rogers said.

The Nebraska State Patrol reported 13 fatal crashes in southeast Nebraska this year. That's four more than this time in 2013 and more than half of the victims were not wearing their seatbelts.

“I think sometimes we get complacent, you know 'I'm just making a quick trip, I don't need to put my seat belt on, I do this all the time,' and all it takes is that one time, that one vehicle, that one crash,” Rogers said.

For example, earlier this month 39-year-old Francisca Campbell died from injuries following a car crash near Plymouth. Police said she was the passenger of a car that failed to stop at a stop sign, she was not wearing her seatbelt.

The Nebraska State Patrol says it's a simple task that could save your life.

“A lot of times when you're not wearing your seat belt, it's a single vehicle crash, the vehicle rolls and this person's ejected, thrown out and they hit an object outside the vehicle or the vehicle sometimes, unfortunately, will roll on top of them,” Rogers said.

The State Patrol said they're doing more vehicle checks to make sure drivers and passengers are buckling up. That way, friends and family, like those of the seven who weren't wearing a seatbelt this year, don't have to lose a loved one.

“Had they been wearing their restraints at the time of the crash, we can probably say a couple of them would still be with us,” Rogers said.

 Statewide, the fatality numbers are down, but not by much. 46 fatalities were recorded this time in 2013, 44 in 2014.