Thousands of lives are lost each year from drivers and passengers failing to wear their seatbelts.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The death of George Washington High freshman Drew Morton has taken quite a toll on his friends, family and the community. Morton was killed in a car accident involving fellow freshman and football teammate Reed Deer on Sunday.
Deer was driving on Quarry Ridge Road when he lost control of the car, which then hit a pole and tree and tumbled over the hillside. Reed was wearing his seat belt and was uninjured; Morton, however, was not. His body was ejected from the car, and he later died of his injuries.
In a Sept. 18 Charleston Gazette article
, Lt. Shawn Williams of the Charleston Police Department said he firmly believes that Morton would be with us had he been wearing his seat belt. "This is a textbook case of why seat belts should be used," he said.
And he is absolutely right.
According to the National Safety Council
, a study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2010 showed that seat belts saved more than 75,000 lives from 2004 to 2008. The NSC also reported that 42 percent of vehicle passengers killed in 2007 were not wearing a seat belt.
Additionally, a 2009 NHSTA study estimated that more than 1,600 lives could have been saved and 22,000 injuries could have been prevented if 90 percent of drivers and passengers in each state wore a seat belt. (The national average is 85 percent.)
NHTSA's famous "Click It or Ticket"
campaign provides the truth to a few seatbelt related myths. For example, many believe that a seat belt can cause you injury in a crash. This is false; while almost everything in your car can harm you in a crash, your seat belt is one of the few things that helps you.
Another myth debunked? That if you're not traveling far or driving fast, you don't require a seat belt. In actuality, most fatal crashes happen within 25 miles from home and at speeds of less than 40 mph.
How about one more? The myth that if your car has airbags, then a seat belt is unnecessary is wrong. Airbags are actually designed to protect buckled occupants; if you're not wearing your seat belt, airbags become less effective and can even become deadly.
Teens are the worst offenders when it comes to unbuckled seat belts. It takes between two and three seconds to buckle up, yet many teens are more willing to risk their lives than to do so. Why? Do you not see how important seat belt safety is? Do you not understand the damage that can happen because you're too lazy to take three seconds to buckle your seat belt?
We can only hope that some good can come from the tragedy of Drew Morton's death and that teens and adults alike can be reminded to put on their seat belts.Visit www.nhtsa.gov
for more information on how to drive safely. And remember, it only takes three seconds to save your life.