Buckle up, America | PostIndependent.com

Buckle up, America

As you may know from experience, automobile crashes happen without warning.

Every 15 seconds, someone is injured in a traffic crash and every 13 minutes someone is killed in a traffic crash. In an instant, a family’s life can change.

No one can quantify the emotional cost of losing a loved one.

But the financial and societal costs of crashes are both real and tangible. Crashes cost America more than $150 billion a year, an average of $580 per person.

How can we reduce these costs? It’s simple: get more people to buckle up themselves and their children.

To save lives and protect children, we must do more to raise adult seat belt use in America. According to national crash data, when a driver is buckled up, children are buckled up 94 percent of the time. However, when a driver is unbuckled, children are restrained only 30 percent of the time.

We know what works: strong, primary enforcement of seat belt laws, those that allow police to stop and ticket a driver for not wearing a seat belt, and stronger enforcement of those laws.

Stronger laws and enforcement gets drivers and their child passengers buckled up.

Some will argue that it is a matter of personal freedom to drive unbuckled. But the fact is, in our society, personal freedoms stop where other people are injured or killed. This is especially true when it comes to children’s safety.

Crashes are devastating to unbuckled children. A child unrestrained in a 30-mph crash is like a child dropped from a third-story window.

Yet adults who do not buckle up are sending children a deadly message that it is all right not to use seat belts.

Buckling up is still the most effective and immediate way to save lives and reduce injuries from crashes on America’s roadways. Unlike so many of the complex problems facing America today, we have the solution for reducing traffic-related injuries and deaths.

It is so simple, just buckle up.

You can help solve the problem by making sure everyone is always buckled up in your vehicle on every trip.

Law enforcement officers are committed to keeping our roads safe. We can help our officers do their job – and protect ourselves – by buckling up and using child safety seats.

Lou DeCarolis is the regional administrator in Lakewood for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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