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Seat Belts Save Lives

Published on October 16, 2013 • Last updated November 28, 2023 by Ken Christensen
Topics: Uncategorized

Seat belt

We have compiled these stories on how seat belts save lives and how neglecting to use them resulted in something else. Along with the recommendation to impose stricter seat belt laws to get people to use their seat belts, this article hopes that these stories will inspire people to really buckle up.

It is not every day that cops will conduct a campaign to remind people to buckle up. For eight days, Utah Highway Patrol troopers were among law enforcement officials in 10 states who took part in “More Cops, More Stops.” The campaign was considered successful because there were no deaths reported in that campaign week. But when people are not reminded, they go back to their usual habit of not buckling up. So we compiled these news articles to remind people that the seat belt is designed to protect them from sustaining life-threatening injuries.

Story #1

Clint Leary is thankful that he has taken wearing his seat belt seriously, seven months ago, prior to his accident. He described himself as a person raised in rural Utah who drove around in his truck without  the thought of wearing a seat belt. Fortunately for him, he bought this truck that will sound an incessant alarm if someone in the truck is not wearing seat belt. The alarm will stop if the seat belt is worn.

Leary recalled the day that he went for an antelope hunt in Wyoming together with his best friend and son. It was raining on Wasatch Front that day. A wall of water caused his pickup truck to hydroplane and he lost control. His pickup rolled and it felt like being inside a washing machine for them. They were lucky that they did not roll into incoming traffic. The air bags did deploy correctly and when the truck finally came to a stop, they found themselves conscious and without substantial injury. Clint Leary considered the experience an emotional one, especially when he reached out for his son to check if he was okay. He was glad that the three of them wore their seat belts that day. It would have been a different story if they were not properly restrained. The pickup truck was heavily damaged but the passengers survived the crash because of their seat belts.

Story #2

Shawn Winters survived a car accident in June 2013 in Saratoga Springs. Winters suffered a broken hand in the accident and still needs knee surgery. He said he believes the only reason he is alive is because he was wearing his seat belt.

Story #3

Jamie Dangerfield and her best friend Chelsie Hill, were in a car together that fatal day. Jamie recalled asking Chelsie who was going to drive the car. Chelsie opted to be the passenger, so off they went out for a drive and minutes later they were going in the parking lot at the speed of 5 miles per hour. They were hit by another car from behind and the force of the low speed crash sent Chelsie Hill through the sun roof of their car. She was not wearing her seat belt that day and she did not survive the crash.

Jamie Dangerfield now works with the Department of Transportation’s Zero Fatalities initiative as a speaker to share to other young people the pain of losing a friend in an accident. She knew how hard it was to accept losing someone you care about that sudden. Jamie does not want other people to regret their decisions and to be swallowed up with what ifs. This is the reason that she is passionate in her advocacy to encourage people to wear their seat belts all the time no matter how short the drive will be.

Debbie Hill, Chelsie’s mother described herself as an amputee after losing her child in that accident. She said life goes on but you feel that something important is missing. She consoles herself with the memories and mementos of Chelsie around the house. Her zeal for advocating the use of seat belt is her hope of making it a lasting legacy for her daughter.

The same is true with Jamie Dangerfield. She pursues her plans now without her best friend, together they were inseparable. The day she got married, she did not have a bridesmaid but she kissed a flower and placed it on a chair reserved for her friend to honor her.

Three years had passed since that accident but Chelsie Hill’s family and friends continue to remember her through the advocacy on seat belt use and hosting activities to remind people that it is wiser to buckle up. They remind everybody that one’s decision to not wear a seat belt will seem irrelevant at that time, but it is going to leave a lasting impact to those loved ones left behind.

Story 4

A Utah teacher named Chad Hawkes started the “Click-it Club for fifth graders.” The students in this club pledge to buckle up and share the message with their friends and families. He is doing this for his son who was killed in a car accident in 2009. According to Chad Hawkes his son was texting as he approached a North Logan intersection. By the time Jake Hawkes looked up, the light was red. He swerved to avoid rear-ending one car, clipped another car and then rolled his truck. He was ejected from the vehicle because he wasn’t buckled in. If only Jake has worn his seat belt, Chad felt he could have walked away alive. Chad added that there is a void that a parent will feel after losing a child to an accident that is preventable. Now he works through his students in making more people wear their seat belts. Non-compliant adults normally respond to their child’s appeal to buckle up. This teacher knew that by making his students aware on the importance of wearing seat belt all the time, he is making a great difference for the whole community of Utah.

Hope these stories will help you realize that indeed seat belts make a difference in a motorist’s lives.

Photo copyright to M.Minderhoud


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