Buckle up, save your life

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Cell­phones have made dis­tracted driv­ing a dan­ger­ous com­mon­al­ity. But re­cently we all got a re­minder of how im­por­tant a ba­sic safety de­vice can be, and it’s one that has ex­isted since long be­fore the in­ven­tion of the smart­phone: the seat belt.

On Sun­day, April 23, six peo­ple were in­jured in a sin­gle ve­hi­cle crash in White Sands in Calvert County af­ter a Ford Ex­plorer rolled over in the driver’s at­tempt to avoid de­bris in the road­way. The pas­sen­gers, in­clud­ing three ju­ve­niles, weren’t wear­ing seat­belts and some suf­fered se­ri­ous in­juries. Among other in­juries, a 5-year-old child not wear­ing a seat belt was ejected from the ve­hi­cle and an in­fant in a car seat un­se­cured was in­jured.

In­ci­dents like this sim­ply should not hap­pen any more. While Mary­land law only re­quires that driv­ers and front-seat pas­sen­gers wear seat­belts, all pas­sen­gers should be se­cured with a seat­belt while the ve­hi­cle is in mo­tion. This is a sim­ple case of cost and ben­e­fit anal­y­sis: The po­ten­tial for in­jury or death from not wear­ing a seat belt is sim­ply too great to spare the few sec­onds it takes to click the re­straint.

Whether the ve­hi­cle is just headed around the cor­ner or across the county, seat­belts can save lives. Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion In­jury Cen­ter, 21,022 pas­sen­gers of ve­hi­cles died in crashes in 2014. More than half of those aged 13 to 44 who died in crashes in 2014 were un­re­strained at the time of the crash.

Mary­land’s child safety seat law re­quires that all chil­dren un­der the age of 8 be se­cured in a fed­er­ally ap­proved safety seat, un­less the child is 4 feet, 9 inches or taller. Ev­ery child from 6 to 16 years old who is not se­cured in a child re­straint must be se­cured by a seat­belt, re­gard­less of where they are sit­ting in the ve­hi­cle.

While it takes a bit longer to se­cure a young child in a car seat than it does for an adult to sim­ply con­nect their own seat belt, life is too pre­cious to save those few min­utes or sec­onds.

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