Two pregnant sisters were killed in a rollover accident in Eastern Montana on Friday morning. Icy conditions are believed to have played a role in the rollover. The sisters did not have their seat belts on and were thrown from the vehicle. The driver, their mother, had her seat belt on and is listed in serious condition in a North Dakota hospital.
The accident serves as a terribly tragic reminder of two things – the need to exercise caution when driving in dangerous seasonal conditions and the importance of wearing a seat belt. If those young women had their seat belts on they might still be alive.
I used to work with a woman who chose not to wear her seat belt because she thought she had a better chance of survival if she was thrown clear of the vehicle. Every time she tried to justify this rationale to me I would point out that choosing to be a projectile was not really a smart choice. This type of logic – the notion that it is better to be thrown from the vehicle on impact - can be deadly. You are 25 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed when thrown clear of the vehicle. How can that possibly be rationalized as a sensible choice to people?
Here is the bottom line – by wearing a seat belt you reduce your odds of injury or death by 50-70%. Take a look at some basic facts and statistics from James Madison University.
- One out of every five drivers will be involved in a traffic crash this year.
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among people age 44 and younger and the number one cause of head and spinal cord injury.
- Approximately 35,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes each year. About 50 percent (17,000) of these people could be saved if they wore their safety belts.
- More than 90 percent of all motorists believe safety belts are good idea, but less than 14 percent actually use them.
- For every one percent increase in safety belt use, 172 lives and close to $100 million in annual injury and death costs could be saved.
- Safety belts when used properly reduce the number of serious traffic injuries by 50 percent and fatalities by 60-70 percent.
- For maximum protection safety belts should be fastened before traveling any distance or speed. Seventy-five percent of crash deaths and injuries occur within 25 miles of home. More than half of all injury-producing motor vehicle crashes involve low speeds under 40 m.p.h.
- Motorists are 25 times are more likely to be killed or seriously injured when they are “thrown clear” than when remain inside their vehicle.
- In a 30 m.p.h. collision an unbelted 160 lb. Person can strike another passenger, crash through a windshield and/or slam into the vehicle’s interior with a 4,800 lb. force.
- Motorists can increase safety belt usage by example and verbal reminders. Nine out of 10 people buckle up when asked.
- Safety belt use is one of the best defenses against the unpredictable actions of the drunk driver.
- Today over 25 countries around the world have some type of mandatory safety belt law. Results of these laws were measured; usage rate went from 20-25 percent before passage to 60-90 percent after passage.
- A common cause of death and injury to children in motor vehicles is being crushed by adults who are not wearing safety belts. On out of four serious injuries to passengers is caused by occupants being thrown into each other.
- About 80 percent of all injuries to children in car crashes are injuries to the head, causing brain damage, permanent disfigurement, epilepsy or death.
- Of every 100 children who die in motor vehicle crashes at least 80 would survive if they were properly secured in an approved child safety seat or safety belts.
- Three out of four families with child safety seats fail to use them correctly. Adults need to follow manufacturer’s instructions and secure seats properly before every trip.
- An estimated 80 percent of American children area immunized against contagious diseases, but less than 10 percent are properly restrained when riding in a motor vehicle.
Please take extra caution as we enter the season of ice and snow-laden roads…and please wear your seat belt and make sure that others in the vehicle are restrained properly as well. The data is clear – seat belts save lives. Don’t allow yourself or others to become a part of a sad statistic…the odds are against projectiles. Buckle up folks and increase your odds of survival.
Day one thousand two hundred and twenty-three of the new forty – obla di obla da