Letter to the Editor: Buckle up – Every trip. Every time.

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(Posted Nov. 25, 2019)

Thanksgiving is a time for Americans to reflect on all they are thankful for in their lives. This year, what are you most thankful for?

The Madison County Safe Communities Coalition and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are teaming up this holiday to tell you what’s on the top of our thankfulness list: seat belts.

Proper seat belt use is the single most effective way to save your life in the event of a crash. So, whether you’re driving across the street or across the country to reach your Thanksgiving feast, it’s imperative to wear your seat belt as you travel. Increased traffic brings the increased possibility of a traffic crash. This Thanksgiving, help us share this lifesaving reminder: “Buckle Up–Every Trip. Every Time.”

NHTSA estimates that proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to serious injury by 50 percent. In 2017, approximately 14,995 people survived crashes because they were buckled up. If everyone had worn their seat belts that year, an additional 2,549 lives could have been saved.

NHTSA’s research also reveals that males are more likely to be unbuckled than females in a fatal crash, and that younger drivers are also at greater risk of being unbuckled. In 2017, 51 percent of the males killed in crashes were not buckled up at the time of the crash, compared to 39 percent of females. The 21- to 24-year-old and 25- to 34-year-old age groups had the highest percentages (57 percent and 59 percent, respectively) of occupants killed who were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash.

Seat belt use should be a no-brainer. We know that regular seat belt use vastly reduces fatalities. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful for the most basic vehicle technology that has, without a doubt, saved the most lives. Help us spread the message: “Buckle Up–Every Trip. Every Time.” We all want to see our friends and family arrive safe and sound to the Thanksgiving table.

If you have any questions about the Safe Communities Coalition, contact Madison County Public Health at (740) 852-3065 or info@madisonpublichealth.org. For more information about the importance of seat belt safety, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/seat-belts/buckle/thanksgiving-weekend.

Erin Fawley, MPH, community health coordinator
Madison County Public Health

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