Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

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Opinion

July 26, 2013

‘Seatbelts save lives’ is no lie

GLASGOW — On the final Friday of the Barren County Fair, my daughter was a passenger in a vehicle that crashed on Ky. 63 as she and her friends returned from the fairgrounds.

The pickup truck they were in did what it was supposed to do, as did the safety devices inside the vehicle — especially the seatbelts.

The crash occurred because of one of the most common things that happens — overcorrection. The truck crossed the roadway, struck a ditch and overturned end-over-end at least once, then exited the ditch and landed on its passenger side in the lane from which it came on Ky. 63.

So many things could have made the crash much worse. As it turned out, all those inside walked away with minor injuries such as scrapes and bruises.

One mother suggested the hand of God was on them. In a Biblical sense, that is true. There are earthly reasons they walked away as well.

Barren County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Bow, who worked the scene, told the teenagers they should do a public service announcement for why people should wear their seatbelts, my daughter said.

Here are some other things that went right. The cab of the truck was virtually undamaged. The front crumpled the way it was supposed to, as did the bed. None of the glass shattered. The air bags took care of the rest.

The abrasions on my daughter’s neck and legs were the result of the seatbelt and airbag, respectively. There would be those who would point to those minor, cosmetic injuries and say the safety devices caused them. They would be correct, but then I would say, “Consider this: She walked away and came home to me.”

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On the day after the crash, while trying to absorb the possibilities, it struck me that if I had been in a crash of that nature at 16 years old, there would have been no walking away. I didn’t wear a seatbelt.

In many states in the mid-1980s, there were no mandatory seatbelt laws. That was certainly the case in Mississippi. It wasn’t until I joined the Army and they had a mandatory seatbelt law on base and the state of Texas, where I was stationed, also had a similar law. I began the practice then of buckling up and have never stopped.

My wife, working in the medical field, always points out the worst thing for an individual may not be dying, but may be suffering some permanent debilitating injury as the result of being in a crash and having not worn a seatbelt.

As I attempted to mentally and emotionally absorb the possible ramifications of if my daughter and her friends had not grown up in an era when wearing seatbelts is legally mandated, I kept thinking about people whose response to such laws is, “No one’s going to tell me what to do in my own car.”

If they are adults, I don’t really care what they do.

But I do wonder how they would feel if through the course of their actions, they had informed their children’s actions and one day their children, having grown up not wearing seatbelts, died in a rollover crash on some curvy road in Barren County. Who would be responsible?

My daughter walked away and came home to me.

I have been given a chance to look at my life, my attitudes and actions, and to examine what I do that informs her actions and attitudes. There are certainly things I can improve in my life and still share with her. I thank God for the opportunity.

James Brown is editor for the Glasgow Daily Times. He can be contacted by e-mail at jbrown@glasgowdailytimes.com.

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