The night of Valentine’s Day, I heard a loud boom outside my house. I thought a tree had fallen or a transformer blew. About five minutes later, at least five police cars came streaming now the street. Looking a few houses down, I saw a horrific wreck where an SUV had wrapped itself around a tree. Looking at the,news reports the next day, a SUV was traveling at least 80 mph down our residential street with no lights on and swerved off the road into a tree during the accident. Two female passengers, died on impact. The driver of the SUV, was taken to the hospital and was pronounced dead early Tuesday morning. A backseat passenger was expected to survive.
There were numerous circumstances that could have contributed to causing this crash, but the one thing that stood out to me was the one factor identified that could have saved these people despite the crash. According to the police reports, the driver and passengers were not wearing seatbelts. I don’t know if wearing seatbelts would have saved them, but it has been estimated that 50% of car crash deaths would have been prevented had the passengers been wearing a seatbelt. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the five things you should know about seatbelts are the following:
1. Wearing a seatbelt is the single best thing you can do to protect yourself.
2. Air bags are not a replacement. Air bags are meant to work with a seatbelt to provide additional protection. They are not meant to replace them. Without a seatbelt on, an airbag can actually do more harm than good as hitting the airbag without a restraint may cause additional injuries.
3. When wearing a seatbelt, the lap belt and shoulder belt should be secured across the pelvis and rib cage.
4. Don’t just check out the stereo and cup holders in the new car you are getting. Make sure the seatbelt is a good fit, and if it’s not, ask the dealer about seat belt adjusters or extenders that will give you a better and more comfortable fit.
5. Everybody should wear seatbelts or some kind of restraints, including small children (with a booster or car seat) and pregnant women.
–Bradley A. Coxe is a practicing attorney in Wilmington, NC with Hodges & Coxe PC who specializes in Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Homeowner’s Associations, Contract and Real Estate disputes and all forms of Civil Litigation. Please contact him at (910) 772-1678.