BUFFALO, NY – A new study published in the Journal of Trauma has found that more police officers die each year in patrol car crashes than at the hands of criminals. The accidents usually occur when the officers are not speeding to an emergency.

The study, which reviewed hundreds of police car accidents from 1997 to 2001, also found that officers involved in crashes were 2.6 times as likely to be killed if they were not wearing seat belts. The overall seat belt use rate was around 80 percent.

Officers avoid buckling up because the belts become entangled with their equipment and it hinders access to their guns. Laws for seat belts do not apply to police officers.