OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) –  With the holidays here law enforcement in both Georgia and Alabama are urging all of us to do one simple thing as we dive and drive into the hustle and bustle: buckle up.

In Georgia – for nine years through 2014 – fatalities on the state’s roads consistently declined. Then deaths rose sharply over the past three years, with 1,549 people dying on Georgia roadways in 2017.

In Alabama – state troopers investigated 598 traffic deaths during 2017; a reduction of 73 deaths compared to 2016. 29 people lost their lives during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods in Alabama last year. Troopers say a majority of those killed were not wearing a seatbelt.  

Law enforcement officers say buckling up is your insurance policy because no matter how careful you are other drivers are not. News 3 is sharing powerful images from our viewers and crash survivors who say they owe their lives to a five-second click of their belt.

“I have seen it multiple times pulling up to accidents and scenes and looking at the cars and thinking the worst. Then, I find the person on the side of the road talking to me. They are fine.  They walked away just because they had that seatbelt. It kept them snug and kept them safe,” said Opelika Police Captain, Shane Healey.

Numerous families sent News 3 images from their crash scenes,  where they or a loved one survived being seriously injured or killed because they were buckled up.

Because many drivers are behind the wheel distracted, they rarely have time to brake before impact leading to powerfully violent collisions with deadly consequences.

“Distracted driving is the number one cause of car crashes now, so it’s not worth it, pull over. Alternatively, designate an adult in the care to be the person who reads the map or gives you the directions,” said Healey.

Seatbelts are an added insurance policy for you, your loved and your children. Always make sure they’re in the correct car seat or booster – and parents don’t give in if your kids complain about being uncomfortable.

“Even on trips where I know they get irritated, don’t let them put the belt behind them or get their shoulder through, keep them buckled up like they are supposed to be,” said Healey.

As always, along with wearing your seatbelt and putting the phones away when you drive please never drive drunk. Law enforcement officers will be out in force this Holiday season looking for dangerous drivers.