JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Four teenagers were killed last weekend as the result of a car accident. It was later revealed that none of the passengers were wearing their seatbelts, which is a requirement in the state of Mississippi.
"In the state of Mississippi, it is the law that you're required to buckle up all front seat passengers are required to have on seat belts," Sheriff Alex Hodge of the Jones County Sheriff's Department said. "In the accident that happened this past weekend on rose lane, none of the occupants were restrained and obviously sometimes you have the argument out there that 'if I'd had my seat belt on,' but again, don't take those things and start trying to rationalize why you will not have on a safety belt because it is a proven fact that restrained drivers have a much higher chance of survival in an impact crash."
Sheriff Hodge added that no matter the size of the individuals in the car, it is virtually impossible to prevent an individual that is not properly secure from being ejected from the vehicle.
"If you take a 30 pound infant and you put them in a 30 mph crash that infant becomes 300 lbs of mass, flying through the air if they are not properly restrained," Sheriff Hodge said. "Nobody can hold that child down in a seat in a crash. Nobody is strong enough to be able to hold that child. So if you take the weight and increase it, the numbers just continue to get larger. And so, we can't stress enough the importance of buckling up."
The Jones County Sheriff's Department takes all available measures to enforce seat belt laws, but asks the public to do their part by buckling up before leaving their homes.
"It is something that we enforce, we enforce it at checkpoints," Sheriff Hodge said. "Years ago, it was made a primary violation that if you see someone without a seatbelt on that you can actually make a traffic stop so we enforce seat belt laws here in Jones County. Nobody leaves the house with the intent of going and getting involved in an accident."
Sheriff Hodge added that the county's numbers for seat belt use has increased, but could be better.
"Our usage has increased over the last several years, but obviously we still need to preach that message and bring it home that unrestrained driving is unacceptable and it will cost you your life, as you saw this weekend," Sheriff Hodge said.