The Montana Highway Patrol calls it 'unrestrained', when someone is not wearing a seat belt, and it's the cause of nearly 70 percent of Montana's traffic fatalities.

Captain Jim Kitchen has the numbers.

"From 2011 to 2015, 67 percent of people involved in fatalities are unrestrained," Kitchen said. "We're seeing that across the state. We had a couple of very bad crashes in the Missoula area, the first one was the fatality of the three year-old and her father. They were both unrestrained. They were actually laying down in the back of that vehicle when it rolled. We just had one in the Flathead, as well."

Kitchen goes on to describe what happens inside a vehicle when riders are not restrained.

"People are getting thrown out of the vehicle, or getting thrown through the windows," he said. "I liken it to a marble inside a tin can. If you shake it, it bounces around inside until there's an avenue to escape and a lot of times, that's what happens. Even if the driver is not restrained, if you have a child in the area, that person is going to smash into the other people. If you're going 75 miles an hour, believe me, the people inside that vehicle are rolling around like rag dolls, and it kills other people, as well."

Kitchen said the first responders become witnesses to the effects of unrestrained accident victims.

"I feel very bad for all the troopers, sheriff's deputies, EMS providers, the fire department, even the tow truck drivers who had to respond out there, because they are affected by what they see and what could have been prevented, and it does affect everyone on scene," he said.

Kitchen said he is in favor of the Montana legislature making not wearing a seat belt a primary offense.

"If you look at states that have a primary seat belt law and a higher fine, the usage rate is much higher," Kitchen continued. "A good example is Washington state, Utah just went through a revision and we actually have someone coming to talk to us about that in October at our state meeting over here with DOT (Department of Transportation). Vision Zero is our vision, and it just tears your heart out when you're seeing young children, or anyone for that matter, that wasn't wearing a seat belt get killed, but when you go to these crashes and look and see the cabin compartment intact but the person went out the window and died. They would have been alive.

They would have been...

KItchen said please buckle up, because seat belts save lives.

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