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Michigan seatbelt use rate hits nine-year low

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lesterman -
Lock car seatbelt

A recent study by Michigan State University found that Michigan's seatbelt usage rate has fallen to its lowest percentage since 2004.

This year's seat belt use rate in the state is 92.4%, which is a 0.5 percent decrease from the previous year.

Gladwin county had the lowest seatbelt usage rate in the entire lower peninsula.

Lt. Derrick Carroll is a public information officer with the Michigan State Police in Gaylord. He said seatbelts and airbags help save lives.

"But without using the seatbelt, the airbag really isn't as effective. It's a two-part process that really needs to be both implemented in order to help prevent injury and death," said Carroll.

Carroll also says that state troopers will be patrolling during the Thanksgiving travel period to enforce seatbelt use.

"And the enforcement isn't meant to you know, we're not out there just to write tickets, we're out there to change behavior. So people begin to wear their seatbelts," Carroll added.

According to the study even a 1% increase in the number of people buckling up could lead to 10 fewer traffic deaths.

The study also says the rate of drivers using electronic devices has risen 2.2 percent compared to last year.

A large portion of the survey was conducted before Michigan's hand-free law took affect hence the impact of the new piece of legislation is yet to be seen on traffic safety.

Jazmin Anderson is a newsroom intern covering central Michigan for WCMU.