At roughly 7 a.m. PDT on Oct. 30, an automobile accident occurred on the I-5 southbound freeway in Glendale, California. According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver of a Ford Fiesta was traveling recklessly at high speeds when it collided with a another vehicle and overturned, ejecting the driver and the vehicle’s sole occupant, a 20-year-old male Burbank, California, resident.
This automobile accident may seem like one of relative insignificance to a typical reader of The Rambler, as automobile accidents occur all to often, and because of California’s relative distance from Erie, Pennsylvania. However, there is something peculiar about this accident that gained national media attention. The driver of the Ford Fiesta was not wearing a seatbelt during the accident, sending his body flying through the windshield. The victim then landed, as if by chance, on the ledge of an overhead highway exit sign, 20 feet above the highway. While this accident was just as gruesome as it was peculiar, had the the accident victim not have landed on the overhead freeway exit sign, he likely would have met his end on the road and suffered from road burn like most motorists who are ejected through the windshields of their vehicles.
Like many accidents, reckless driving was a contributing factor in this case. However, like many fatal accidents, not wearing a seatbelt was the cause for the victim’s ejection from the vehicle and subsequent death. “Any time you speed and you don’t wear your seat belt, there’s a good chance you’re going to get hurt, if not killed,” stated California Highway Officer Edgar Figueroa, one of the first responders on the scene.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 12,174 American lives were saved due to people wearing their seat belts during their involvement in auto accidents in 2012. The NHTSA further estimates that another 3,031 lives could have been saved had those people killed been buckled up at the time of their fatal accident, including 136 Pennsylvanians who were killed in 2012 simply because they weren’t wearing a seatbelt.
Sophomore Thomas Uht understands the importance of wearing a seatbelt. “Growing up, my cousin’s friend Carli Cummings was killed in a car accident for not wearing a seatbelt. She flew through the windshield because she wasn’t buckled up. It really had an effect on me because I knew her personally,” Uht said.
Many people who choose not to wear a seat belt may argue that it feels uncomfortable on their person, or believe that they have superior driver instincts to avoid any possible collision. Others may just be in a habit of forgetting to put it on. Contrary to these misguided thoughts, it only takes one slip-up to get in an accident and not wearing a seatbelt can make just a moderate crash a fatal one. Even if you are not the cause of the accident, it only takes the carelessness of another driver to hit your vehicle and possibly eject another driver or passenger if they are not secured.
Let us take warning from past fatal accidents so that they may not be repeated. Be sure to secure your seat belt before you ride in an automobile. After all, any one of us could be next.