Wear your seat belt – it could save your life and others

Published 8:49 am Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Less than two weeks ago a Carter County man died in a traffic accident on the Gap Creek Road. He was ejected from his vehicle. Investigating officers said he was not wearing a seat belt.
Would he have survived had he been using his seat belt? It’s impossible to say with absolute certainty. The victim’s two young sons who were riding in the vehicle survived the accident. They had their seat belts on.
Every hour, at least one person in this country dies because he or she did not buckle up. Failure to use a seat belt contributes to more fatalities than any other single traffic safety-related behavior.
Last week, the Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office announced the SAFE Campaign, Seat Belts Are For Everyone, and seat belt enforcement efforts in the East Tennessee region.
The SAFE Campaign was launched earlier this year in an effort to increase seat belt and child passenger safety usage in Tennessee.
As of March 31, the Tennessee Highway Patrol had issued 28,850 seat belt citations in 2014. That’s 11,752 more seat belt citations, a 69 percent increase, than those issued during the first three months of 2013.
Despite the SAFE Campaign, there has been an 18 percent increase in the number of unrestrained fatalities so far this year compared to last. Fifty-nine percent of the people killed in the first three months of 2014 were not wearing seat belts. That is unacceptable. The simple fact is, seat belts save lives.
Today’s baby boomers grew up in an era before seat belts, at a time when no one thought twice about sliding into the back seat without any real security.
When seat belts were introduced, first in the front seats, later in the back, they met with considerable resistance. People hate change, and despite statistics to the contrary, some would try to argue that they were safer without the seat belts than they were with them.
It took changes in the laws to finally force the changes in behavior.
Most of us, of course, have gotten used to using seat belts. When we do, we feel in better control of our safety, and with good reason, because we are, in fact, safer.
Nationally, seat belt usage rates have increased steadily over time. However, that’s not the case in Tennessee. Last year, more than half of Tennessee’s traffic fatalities involved unrestrained drivers or passengers.
Statistics show that seat belt use is lowest among young drivers, according to the National Safety Council.
The council also reports that males are less apt to use seat belts than females
It is up to drivers to make safe choices, one of those choices is to wear your seat belt, and drivers with no one else in the car are less apt to buckle up than drivers with passengers.
There are many safety features on today’s cars like air bags to help you survive a crash.
But one of those safety features depends on you using it. If you buckle up you have a greater chance of not being thrown through a windshield, ejected for becoming a human missile.
It is up to drivers to make safe choices, one of those choices is to wear your seat belt.

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