The last five people to die in traffic accidents in Robeson County had this in common: None of them was wearing a seat belt, and all of them were ejected from the vehicle they were traveling in.
Staff writer Teddy Kulmala plans a story on seat-belt use in this county and another factor that was common in all four of those deadly accidents — a driver’s propensity to over-correct when a vehicle drifts too far sideways. That article should be published soon, but we figured an advance look at seat-belt use in this space could be a life-saving reminder, and that today’s Our View might find itself Scotch-taped to the steering wheel of the teenage son or daughter’s vehicle.
It is a war that is being won as seat-belt use has steadily climbed and now stands at about 85 percent in this country. But that leaves millions of people taking an unnecessary risk every day.
Some facts, all courtesy of the Public Information Office, Division of Motor Vehicles, in Richmond, Va.:
n One out of every five drivers will be involved in a traffic crash this year.
n Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among people age 44 and younger and the No. 1 cause of head and spinal cord injuries.
n Half of the approximately 35,000 people who die in motor vehicle crashes each year could have been saved if they had been wearing a safety belt.
n For every 1 percent increase in safety belt use, 172 lives and close to $100 million in annual injury and death costs could be saved.
n When used properly safety belts reduce the number of serious traffic injuries by 50 percent and fatalities by 60 to 70 percent.
n 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 mph.
n Motorists are 25 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured when they are ejected from the vehicle.
n Nine out of 10 people buckle up when asked.
n A common cause of death and injury to children in motor vehicles is being crushed by adults who are not wearing safety belts. One out of four serious injuries to passengers is caused by occupants being thrown into each other.
n 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.
So there you go. No excuses.