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Consumer Watch: Overcoming seat belt myths

National data shows more Oklahomans are not wearing their seat belts, compared to the national average (KOKH). 

More people die in Oklahoma car wrecks compared to national averages, yet there are still drivers who don't wear their seatbelts.

The Oklahoma highway patrol says not wearing a seat belt will cost you, and not just a citation. Lives have been torn apart over the decision not to wear a seat belt in our state. So, it's time to dispel common seat belt myths.

Most Oklahomans are wearing their safety belts. According to CDC data 16-percent of people don't. This number is higher than the national average and translates to hundreds of thousands of people on Oklahoma roads not wearing their seat belts.

“They are entitled to their own opinions, but if they are a driver or an occupant in a vehicle out here they have to wear their seatbelt, and follow the law on it,” says Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Kara Philippi.

Only people over the age of 13 sitting in the back seat can legally avoid wearing a seat belt. Even so, OHP recommends wearing it all the time.

One common seat belt myth is the idea that a driver can "hang on" after a crash. OHP says a crash is often much too chaotic.

“If you are hit from the rear, or let's say you are hit from the side, if you roll your vehicle, you are not going to stay in your seat. Holding on to your steering wheel isn't going to keep you there,” says Philippi.

Another myth is that wearing a seat belt could trap you if the car is submerged or on fire. Yes-- that could happen -- but the chances are a half of one percent. It's much more likely a seat belt could save your life, or the life of a passenger.

One of the most difficult things to overcome is the idea that wearing a seat belt is a choice.

“I stopped a girl one time. I wrote her, her 8th seatbelt ticket. For some people it takes something happening, unfortunately, before it gets their attention. Whether it's to them or a family member,” says Philippi.

The bottom line in that case is that wearing a seat belt in Oklahoma is the law.

Some people do say they avoid wearing a seat belt because it is uncomfortable. If you require more space than your current seat belt provides, a seat belt extender can be used, and costs under 15 dollars.

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