A common characteristic was shared by most of those who lost their lives in traffic accidents this Memorial Day weekend holiday. They weren’t wearing their safety belts.

Lt. John Hotz with the State Highway Patrol headquarters in Jefferson City says that of the six fatalities state troopers worked, five of those killed weren’t wearing seat belts. Hotz says simply that seat belts save lives, even in a roll-over.

"Several of these crashes involved vehicles that overturned and several of the occupants were ejected from the vehicle," Holtz says, "And we know that once you’re ejected from that vehicle your chances of surviving that crash are not very good."

Seven people died during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, down from the 11 fatalities last year. That continues a trend the highway patrol would like to keep going, a drop in overall traffic fatalities this year.

Troopers were out in force this past weekend, participating in the "Ten Mile Trooper" program, which stations troopers roughly ten miles apart on the interstates and major highways. Trooper visibility, according to Hotz, seems to slow motorists down and focus their attention.

"The increased presence, the increased enforcement, the increased awareness as well as the individual motorist doing the right thing can help continue this downward spiral that we’re seeing in traffic fatalities," Hotz says.

In total, state troopers investigated 348 traffic wrecks during the weekend, which resulted in 157 injuries.

Download/listen Brent Martin reports (1:20 MP3)