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Seatbelts: For your protection and defense

December 10, 2012
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Family Recovery Center Publicist , Salem News

The drivers coming toward youare they sober? Are they under the influence of a mind-altering substance? How can you possibly know? How fast are you traveling? How fast is the vehicle coming toward you traveling? If you collide, both of you driving at 55 mph, the impact speed will be in the neighborhood of 110 mph. What will happen if you aren't wearing your seatbelt? What will happen if you are? Have you ever seen someone who flew threw a windshield? Do you think such things only happen to other people?

When the Be Smart Be Safe Coalition met last week to talk about traffic safety, it was reported that, of the 15 traffic fatalities in Columbiana County this year, only one person was wearing a seatbelt. The statistics included 11 drivers, two passengers, one pedestrian and one motorcycle driver. When a seasoned highway patrolman says, "The last fatality was the worst I've ever seen," one stops to ponder what those patrolman's eyes have seen over the years and with compassion blesses him or her for staying with the job, and for the people who have to do the cleanup when the scene has been cleared. The tragic part of that story is that a seatbelt would have made a huge difference.

At your house, clicking your seatbelt may be as automatic as inserting the car key into the ignition. You don't think about it. You buckle your babies into car seats, your toddlers and children up to age 8 in booster seats. Your front seat passenger clicks that belt around them and you are locked into your own before the car ever moves. If you forget, your children will most likely remind you to buckle up.

Maybe we take for granted that everyone clicks before they move the car. Many people do not use their seatbelts. In Ohio, seatbelt usage is not governed by a primary law that permits law enforcement to make traffic stops and write citations for violators. Traffic officers say that they could make a lot of stops for seatbelt violations if there was a primary law to enforce.

It seems like common sense should be at play here. Of the 15 traffic fatalities this year, one driver had five seatbelt violations and still did not utilize the seatbelt. The passengers were locked in, but the driver was not. The driver, unfortunately, did not survive. Had that individual been wearing a seatbelt, death would not have occurred.

Seatbelts save lives, decreasing the number of fatalities, and help to lessen injuries. When you talk to people who have been saved by seatbelts, you may have some impact from their story. When you have been saved by the belt, you become a believer. A report about the issue (ohiohighwaysafetyoffice.ohio.gov/Reports/2011StatewideTelephoneSurvey.pdf) advises that when you think you may be involved in a traffic accident where you could be seriously injured or killed, you are more likely to use a seatbelt. If you already have been involved in a traffic accident, you know the value and the importance of wearing a seatbelt.

All tragedies can not be averted, but some can. Injuries still happen sometimes, even when you use your seatbelt, but the belt gives you a better chance. Who doesn't want to be around to raise their children, enjoy their grandchildren, and keep making memories in the family scrapbook?

The above report, which you can read in its entirety online, also advises, "African Americans, males and pickup truck drivers exhibit comparatively lower levels of seat belt use, according to results from Observational Surveys of Seat Belt Use in Ohio. Drivers and passengers who live in rural communities may also be less likely to wear their seatbelts" Folks, Columbiana County is one of those rural communities.

The hope is that you enjoy your holiday season with its festive events and gatherings of friends. Travel safely to your destinations. The goal is safe highway travel.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse recovery and other mental health issues. For more information about this topic or FRC programming, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-0531 or e-mail jhawkins@familyrecovery.org.

 
 

 

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