Virginia records 100 percent increase in unbelted fatalities for ages 15-20

Virginia law requires all drivers, front seat passengers to wear safety belts

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Savannah Willis is still coming to grips with the loss of her friend Quincy Plattus.

The 16-year-old died when the Jeep in which she was riding crashed in Bedford County last week.

Plattus was not wearing her seat belt.

“She brought sunshine with her and there's nobody else like her,” Willis said.

Trooper Michael Atkins, of the Virginia State Police, said the number of drivers and passengers he sees not wearing a seat belt is a major concern.

“I see drivers and passengers not wearing a seat belt almost every day,” Atkins said.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the number of people ages 15 to 20 who died while not wearing seat belts during a crash has doubled from January through June of this year when compared to the same months in 2017.

Eighteen unrestrained fatalities have been recorded this year, compared to nine from January to June 2017, and 10 in 2016.

“If you're stopped for a different violation and you're seen not wearing a seat belt, then you would get a ticket for that,” Atkins said.

While Willis said she always wears a seat belt in the car, her friend's death has changed the meaning of that one click.

“My parents instilled in me to always wear a seat belt, but now I do it for her. Everyone should do it for her,” Willis said.