Being belted more than just the law

May 4, 2014

See story A1

Please wear your seat belt and, just as importantly, please make sure any youngster riding with you is in the proper child restraint. It’s not just the law, it’s your future we are concerned about in making this plea.

Beginning tomorrow, law enforcement officers across Sampson will be making a concerted effort to ensure motorists are belted in as part of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program Click It or Ticket campaign, started two weeks early in our county because of the unfortunate ranking we have in the state.

Sampson, you see, is among the Top 10 counties in North Carolina for vehicle crash ejections, mostly brought on by the lack of seat belt usage, a totally avoidable issue if all of us would heed the pleas of law enforcement, family members and friends.

Unfortunately many of us still live by the stubborn principle that wearing a seat belt should be a choice and not a law. Even more tragically, that sentiment is shared by far too many young people — 71 percent of them in Sampson — who aren’t buckling up before driving. Sadly, many are paying for that choice with their lives.

Look at the statistics for the proof. From Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2013, there were 15 unbelted fatalities in Sampson County. In North Carolina that statistic stands at 102.

From 2008 to 2012, there were 35 unrestrained fatalities recorded in Sampson out of a total 92 highway deaths.

Some refuse to believe it, but chances are great that had those individuals been restrained, they might be alive today.

Seat belts do save lives. Wearing one is such a small inconvenience, particularly when you consider the very real possibilities that exist when traveling without one.

Yet many do. We aren’t sure if it’s a stubborn refusal to abide by a law, a lack of education about the safety they bring or a combination of the two, but the facts are clear — far too many of our friends and neighbors still refuse to buckle up or restrain their children.

Come Monday, that refusal just might come with a penalty. If it gets one person’s attention, saves one life, then the campaign will have been worth the time and effort law enforcement will put into it over the next four weeks

It’s why we applaud the GHSP and local law enforcement for putting an emphasis on this all-important law that has proven positive results. And it’s why we implore each one of you yet again to do yourselves and others a simple favor and buckle up. It sounds cliche, yet we believe it to be true — the life you save could be your own or that of one you love.