Please obey seatbelt laws--it saves lives
By: Amanda Hill Bond
During my short time as publisher I have only had to work a few fatalities, none of which involved children.
But I have been shaken by two recent accidents which killed a total of three adults and two children and happened less than one week apart.
The accident on Tuesday, Oct. 14th killed two adults and one child in Albany. The accident report stated that Candi Byers, 29, of Albany was driving a 1997 Cadillac, traveling south on 127 at around 8 p.m. when she lost control and slid into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
Byers struck a 2004 Ford Ranger driven by Brenda Logan, 44, Albany who was traveling North. Logan was airlifted to University of Kentucky hospital with serious injuries.
Both the driver of the Cadillac and her three year old son Kasen Byers were pronounced dead at the scene along with the passenger of the Ford truck, Belinda Logan, 48, of Albany.
The report also indicates that no one involved in the accident was wearing a seat belt and the child was not properly restrained.
On Saturday, October 18 in Dickson, Tn., the Tennessee Highway Patrol investigated an accident which had similar results. The accident report stated that the driver of 1992 Buick LaSabre crashed into a tractor trailer truck. The passenger and a four year old child were killed. The driver and four other children ages six, three and one year old twins were taken to Vanderbilt. The report also indicates that none of the children were properly restrained. Charges are pending against the children’s mother, who was driving the vehicle. Records show that she had previously been cited for five violations of the child restraint law for not having proper child seats.
In Tennessee we have a law that requires all drivers and passengers, regardless of age, to have a seat belt properly fastened about their bodies at all times when the vehicle is on a street or highway.
The Tennessee’s Governor’s Highway Safety office has created the “Click It or Ticket” campaign to provide high visibility education of the seatbelt laws to try to reduce the serious injuries and fatalities on Tennessee’s roadways.
According the Department of Transportation’s website, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death in Tennessee and the United States. Failure to buckle up contributes to more fatalities than any other single traffic safety-related behavior. More than 60% of vehicle occupants killed in crashes in Tennessee were not wearing safety belts. Most crash fatalities result from the force of impact or by being thrown from the vehicle. The research shows that it is almost nine times safer to wear a safety belt.
Unrestrained children are 4.2 times more likely to die than children who are restrained. It also states that less than 1 percent of children who were properly restrained were killed.
The child safety law says that a child who is under one year of age, and weighs less than 20 pounds, must ride in a rear-facing safety seat. A child from age one to three can ride in a forward facing seat while children from ages 4 to 8, less than 4’9” tall must have a belt positioning booster seat. It is recommended, when available, that all children be buckled in rear seat of vehicle.
Most people debate the seatbelt law claiming that it is their personal right to choose to buckle up or not. It is important to remember that driving is a not a right, but a privilege granted and controlled by the State of Tennessee.
The claim is often made that no one else would be hurt if they don’t use their seatbelt. Unrestrained occupants can injure others in crashes and have less control during a crash which often increases the severity of an accident. Not to mention if you were to die in an accident, what your grieving families would have to face had the outcome been different if only you were wearing a seat belt.
The increased injuries can also result in rising costs to Tennesseans due to the drivers who are medically uninsured.
If you are stopped by law enforcement and are unbuckled, it is considered a Class C Misdemeanor. The first offense is a $10 fine and any subsequent offense is $20 each time. If your child isn’t using a seat belt or car seat, the fine is $50.
It is true that wearing a seatbelt can cause some injuries, especially those in severe accidents, but the usual bruises, cracked or broken collarbone and ribs is minor compared to the possible alternative. There are still accidents where people were wearing their seatbelts and were killed, but statistically it is still much safer to wear one.
So when you get in your vehicle, think about what could happen if you or your children aren’t buckled up even if it is only a short trip to town or taking kids to school.
The law is implemented for a reason, to save lives. Remember, statistics show three out of four fatal crashes occur within 25 miles of victims homes and most crashes causing death or injury occur at speeds below 40 miles per hour.
If you would like more information on seatbelt laws in Tennessee or child safety laws and how to properly restrain you child, go to www.tdot.state.tn.us/ClickltorTicket.
The Cookeville Police Department also provide, free of charge, child safety restraint checks or installation from officers who are certified in child restraint systems. The facility is located off South Jefferson or you can call 931-520-8781 for more information.
If you cannot afford a car seat then contact Tennessee Highway Patrol Safety Office Educator at 931-526-6143.