GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — A National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) report finds driving habits changed during the pandemic.

“If you have a seat belt on and you have a collision, no matter how horrific it is, you have an 88 percent chance of surviving that crash,” said Corporal Joe Hovis with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety reports 1,053 people have died in crashes, so far, this year. 699 of those people had access to seat belts, but nearly half weren’t wearing them.

“It’s something that should be automatic when you get in your car,” said Hovis.

The NHTSA report also found fewer people in crashes wore seat belts compared to in 2019, but it doesn’t say why. NHSTA leaders also said a seat belt should be worn correctly, with the strap across the middle of your chest and the lap band over your hips.

“I really can’t think of any cool reason, or any other reason not to wear your seat belt,” said Hovis.

On Thursday, Greenville leaders said it’s an important tool to keep you safe.

“Seat belts do a lot of things,” said senior deputy coroner Shelton England with the Greenville County Coroner’s Office. “One it keeps the occupant inside the vehicle, two a seat belt can also prevent you from going into an airbag that’s opening, which can also be fatal.”

He said it could even change the outcome of a crash.

“Oh, it’s tragic to have to go to and knock on someone’s door in the middle of the night and tell them their loved one has passed away. From working the scene and the investigation, then realizing it could’ve been something as simple as a seat belt placement that could’ve saved their lives,” said England.

The fine for not wearing a seat belt is $25.