MONTOURSVILLE - With preliminary crash data showing that more than half of the people who have died in crashes in the north-central region this year did not have their seat belt on, PennDOT today urged area motorists to buckle up every time they travel.

Based on preliminary 2013 data, more than half of the 46 passenger vehicle traffic deaths reported to the department for Bradford, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, and Union counties were unrestrained. At this time last year, the region saw 45 fatalities, 30 of which were unbelted.

PennDOT data shows that in 2012, of the total 1,310 traffic fatalities statewide, 503 of those were unbuckled. In the north-central region, there were 60 total traffic fatalities and 42 unbelted fatalities.

National data shows that wearing a seat belt increases a person's chance of surviving a crash by up to 60 percent. National research has also shown that vehicle occupants are 25 times more likely to be killed if they are ejected from the vehicle.

Pennsylvania's seat-belt-usage rate was 83.5 percent in 2012 and it has increased 15 percent over that last 10 years. National statistics show that for every 1 percent increase in usage, eight to 12 lives can be saved on highways.

For more information on the myths and facts of seat-belt use, Pennsylvania's seat belt law and more, visit www.JustDrivePA.com, and visit the "Seat Belts" information center.

Article submitted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.