Commentary: My seat belt saved my life -- not once, but twice
July 19, 2013
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launches its Click it or Ticket campaign around Memorial Day each year and the 101 Critical Days of Summer are when most accidents happen.
Although the Click It or Ticket campaign is the most successful seat belt enforcement campaign ever, helping to increase the national seat belt usage rate. The primary audience continues to be men ages 18 to 34, which research shows are less likely to wear seat belts.
Seat belts are there to protect you and your loved ones.
I can personally say wearing my seat belt saved my life -- not once, but twice.
Living in rural Minnesota, winter driving can be treacherous.
One winter morning I was on my way to work when I hit a patch of black ice. My new little pickup spun around, the wheels on the passenger side clipped a snow bank, and the truck flipped over 1 1/2 times landing on the passenger side.
The whole thing happened in a few seconds, but it felt like slow motion to me.
Thankfully, another motorist saw what happened and stopped to help me. I wasn't hurt, but my pickup was pretty banged up.
After six weeks in the body shop, she was good as new.
Two weeks later, I was coming home after having dinner with my dad. At the edge of our small town was a bar. As I passed the bar, a pickup truck was waiting to turn out onto the two-lane highway leading into town.
I didn't think much about it. The road leading to our house was on the left about a half mile up from the bar.
As I approached my road, I stopped to wait for the oncoming traffic to pass so I could make the turn. I happened to look in my rearview mirror and realized the truck was quickly coming up behind me and wasn't going to stop.
All I could do was take my foot off the brake before he hit me.
In my mind I was thinking, "Oh no, here I go again. Please God, don't let the truck roll."
Thankfully, the truck didn't roll but the other driver hit me so hard the bed of my truck folded up like an accordion. The axle dug chunks out of the pavement as it bounced across the road and landed in a cornfield. The impact actually made the radio fly out of the dashboard.
Once again, I was shaken but not hurt.
I tried to open the doors but they wouldn't open. A volunteer firefighter was first on the scene. He kept telling me not to move, help was on the way.
The fire department arrived and used the jaws of life to open the door.
By that time, my husband was there and I was able to walk up to the road. No one could believe I wasn't seriously injured.
The man who hit me wasn't so lucky; he had a severe head injury and a broken arm. He wasn't wearing his seat belt and he was drunk.
In 2011, there were 10,180 vehicle fatalities where passengers were unrestrained in a vehicle and there were 27 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities per day according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a nationwide census used to provide the NHTSA, Congress and the public yearly data regarding fatal injuries suffered in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
The bottom line -- wear your seat belt and don't drink and drive. It can save your life. I know, it saved mine twice.