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Report: Most Dane County crash deaths could have been avoided with a seat belt or helmet

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Sometimes, maintaining your car’s tires is not enough. Depending on where you live, you may want to consider changing your tires during the changing seasons.

Fatalities in six out of nine fatal crashes in Dane County between July and September could have been prevented by seat belts or helmets, according to a traffic safety group.

The nine crashes resulted in a total of 11 deaths, the Dane County Traffic Safety Commission, a coalition of 48 public and private organizations working to improve traffic safety, reported Tuesday.

In three of the fatal crashes, the driver or passenger was not wearing a seat belt. Three of the other fatal crashes involved motorcyclists or bicyclists not wearing a helmet.

According to a crash database maintained by the state Department of Transportation, 42% of all motorist crash deaths in Dane County in the first three quarters of 2022 involved drivers or passengers without seat belts. In the last six years, 80% of bicyclists killed in crashes in Dane County were not wearing helmets, according to the traffic safety group.

“There is a clear relationship between not using seat belts and the likelihood of dying or being severely injured in a crash,” said Sgt. Matt Meyer of the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, who also serves as the commission’s co-chair. “Persons not wearing seat belts in Wisconsin were seven times more likely to die, and three times more likely to suffer a serious injury in a traffic crash.”

Seat belt and helmet use dropped to 88.2% last year in Dane County, after reaching an all-time high of 90% in 2019, Meyer said.

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