|December 20, 2012
Tis the Season to Buckle Up…
Lake County Health Dept.
When you are thinking about gifts to give this holiday season, think about giving the gift of life. Buckle Up Montana programs, along with local law enforcement and state highway patrol agencies would like to remind everyone that properly worn seat belts and child safety seats are your best protection in a collision. Clint Cottle, of the Polson Police Department, reminds us that the law in Montana requires seat belt use for all passengers in the vehicle, as well as properly restraining children in car seats. If you have questions on installing child safety seats or are unsure if it is the right one for your child’s weight and height, you may stop by the Lake County Health Department at 802 Main St. and have your questions answered by child passenger safety technicians. Make sure your child is safe in a properly fitted and tightened child safety seat or booster.
While seat belt use in Montana has hovered near the 80 percent mark over the past five years, too many Montanans still fail to buckle up when they get in a motor vehicle – with sometimes deadly consequences. Reviewing the Montana Highway patrol’s 2011 report, the numbers are quite clear on how seat belts reduce serious injury or death, and help to reduce medical costs for all of us. Of the total number of collisions where no seat belt was worn, only 42 percent of those occupants had no serious injury. Of the total number of collisions where both a lap and shoulder belts were worn, over 85 percent of those occupants had in no serious injury, which over a two-fold difference – seat belts save lives by preventing ejection from the vehicle.
You can’t predict when a crash is going to happen, so whether you are just going down the road or on a trip to visit family and friends, the best way to increase the chance that you will arrive safely is to buckle up. Common misconceptions like, I am only going to the local store and don’t need to wear a seat belt, are quickly dispelled by reading crash statistics. Most accidents occur within 25 miles of home and most injuries occur within speeds of 40mph or less.
Law enforcement agencies throughout the state are stepping up patrols through the holiday season. Together, with the Montana Department of Transportation, they are encouraging Montanans to exercise their choice to make sure all passengers are buckled up, to help prevent impaired driving by designating a sober driver before celebrations begin, and to keep your eyes and focus on the task at hand – driving. Please put your cell phone down, it can wait. “We want everyone to enjoy this holiday season with friends and family, not behind bars or in the hospital,” said Clint Cottle. “Please remind loved ones to buckle up and do everything possible to stop someone from driving impaired.”
Make it a habit to buckle up, and make it your New Year’s Resolution to start the year off right!