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Lack of seat belt use proving fatal
Unbuckled man is 5th '09 victim

LAWRENCEVILLE - Police say a disproportionate amount of drivers killed on Gwinnett roadways the first two months of 2009 have not been wearing seat belts.

On Friday police identified the latest unbuckled victim as Gary Juhan, 52, of Snellville.

Juhan died about 10:50 p.m. Thursday when the 2005 Toyota Camry he was driving sped off Ozora Church Road, struck a curb and two traffic signs, ejecting him as the vehicle flipped over and struck a tree, police said.

According to police, Juhan was alone in the vehicle, headed eastbound on the Lawrenceville roadway when he failed to negotiate a curve near Chandler Road. He was pronounced dead later at Eastside Medical Center. No other injuries were reported.

Speed and alcohol appear to have contributed to the crash, Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman said.

Juhan's death marks the sixth motor vehicle fatality in Gwinnett this year. All but one of the victims were not wearing a seat belt, Spellman said.

In light of the grim statistics, police on Friday announced that seat-belt checkpoints are underway across the county. So far, officers working five checkpoints have dished 365 citations to unbuckled drivers.

"The chances of survival from a violent collision dramatically increase when a driver wears their seat belt properly," Sgt. Scott Nealy, supervisor of the accident investigation unit, said.

Traffic deaths have shown a steady decline in recent years. They dipped 10 percent from 2007 (65 deaths) to last year (49).

Police have attributed the improvement to more frequent DUI arrests and a rise in general citations.