I was asked to write a blog about an incident that affected me that had to do with the lack of wearing or the use of seat belts. I thought about this for a few days and tried to think of a single case that really made me stop and think how important seat belts are. But I just couldn’t pinpoint one incident, no matter how long I thought about it.
Maybe I should tell about the high school girl who rolled her vehicle on a gravel road. When I arrived, she was laying in the middle of the road on her back after being ejected out of a window during the crash. I ran over to her and bent down and saw she was crying. She reached up and rubbed my cheek and called me daddy. EMS personnel treated and transported her to the hospital, however, she was later pronounced dead.
I can think of several of these stories, but there is a silver lining. There are not nearly as many fatal accidents now as there were 20 years ago. Some of this can be attributed to the safer design of our automobiles, but I feel the main reason is the increased use of seat belts by drivers and their passengers.
It is my belief that all accidents that we respond to have an impact on us. After discussing this with Undersheriff Wenzl, we realized that after almost 75 percent of the serious accidents we work, we always turn towards the other officer and say either, “They were lucky they were wearing their seat belts,” or “They would have stood a better chance if they had their seat belt on.”
So in conclusion, I would say that I hope people will make that decision to put on their seat belt, because it is their decision to wear it. If that day ever comes that you are involved in an accident, we want to be able to say “Luckily, they had their seat belts on.”
Troy M. Thomson is the Norton County Sheriff writing as part of a KDOT blog that highlights the need for safety on roadways.