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  • Rhode Island Rep. Joseph Trillo, R-Warwick, head of the House Oversight Commission to Monitor the Ramifications of the Fire Safety Code, addresses a hearing at the Statehouse, in Providence, R.I., Monday, April 9, 2007. The stringent code was adopted in 2004 after a nightclub fire the previous year killed 100 people in West Warwick, R.I. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Thursday, July 14, 2011

Claim calls for strong belt

"There are 30,000 people that have been killed with seat belts."

- Joseph Trillo on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 in a Rhode Island House debate over mandatory seat belt use


Our Ruling

In summary, when Trillo asserted that 30,000 people "have been killed with seat belts," the context of his statement made it clear that he was saying that seat belts contributed to their deaths, not simply that 30,000 people who died happened to be wearing seat belts.

When we asked him for the source of his information, he couldn't produce it. "When we're doing all those bills, I'm trying to assimilate a lot of information. I'm not taking notes on it. I'm just reading stuff," said Trillo.

In fact, when we suggested it might be wise to take note of his sources in case someone - like PolitiFact, for example - wanted to know where his facts came from, his response was, "I could care less."

But we care because, if seat belts are really that dangerous, we want to know. And if a politician is exercising his right to be fooled by an email, we want to know that as well.

With more than 30,000 fatal traffic accidents in the United States each year, we suspect there must be at least a few in which victims might have survived had they not been wearing a seat belt.

But a search of Google, a question to the 32,000 readers who get our Twitter feed and queries to three federal agencies, two law enforcement agencies and others with an interest in tracking the dangers of seat belts produced no evidence that 30,000 people have died from wearing seat belts. Ever.

Trillo's statement deserves to be strapped in for a one-way ride to Ridiculousville.

We award his inflammatory claim a Pants On Fire!

Read the full article: R.I. Rep. Trillo says 30,000 people have died because they used seat belts

Read more of the Politifact 2012 Series