Columbus Co. gets two deputies to focus on seat belts - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Columbus Co. gets two deputies to focus on seat belts and speeders

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COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Starting Monday, there will be two new deputies patrolling in Columbus County and they will just focus on people not wearing seat belts and speeders.

This year the county has a seat belt usage rate of 75.5%, which is the lowest of 15 other rural counties surveyed. From 2007-2011 there were 47 fatalities where a seat belt was not used. Plus, over the past five years, unrestrained fatalities have made up 57% of all fatalities in the county.

Sheriff Chris Batten believes, the lack of seat belts has to do with bad habits. 

"When they're around home going short distance they just forget to put them on. I know some people I talk to, they forget to put it on around home. But when they go long distance trips they'll put it on and wear it." Said Batten.

He tells us, with a grant through the Governor's Highway Safety Program he was able to hire two deputies to target speeders and seat belt violators. 

"We've had a DWI task force out now through the Governor's Highway Safety Program for two years. It's been very beneficial." Added Batten. 

Each year, since getting the two deputies who focus on people driving while impaired, the number of DWI crashes are down in Columbus County have decreased. Currently, alcohol related crashes are at a five year low. 

Batten says, just like the DWI task force, deputies focusing on seat belt violators and speeders will work during times where there's a high volume of traffic. 

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