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Fewer Seatbelts Used In Fatal Crashes

By Erica Williams
By ewilliams@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn- There have been three car crashes in the last week in Jackson-Madison County; and officials from the Tennessee Highway Patrol said all of the victims had one thing in common, they were not wearing seat belts.

Last week, Barbara Thompson, 52, of Milan was killed when police said someone rear-ended her Toyota Matrix as she sat at the stop light at the Highway 45 Bypass and Ashport Road. She died in the collision.

"She was just a real fine person in every way," said Marie Wheeler, Thompson's neighbor. "It hurts me every time I look next door and don't see her."

Police confirmed that Thompson was not wearing a seat belt, a problem that state troopers said has been a common theme in recent fatal car crashes.

"There have been several lately," said Lt. Brad Wilbanks of the THP. "For whatever reason, we don't know."

Lt. Wilbanks said the number of citations given to non-seat belt wearers has increased by 23 percent since last year.

"If the car is moving or in motion, you need to wear a seat belt," he said.

Officials said Thompson may have survived if she were wearing her safety belt.

Officials said you are seven times more likely to survive a crash if you are buckled up.