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Insight from WFPD: Buckle up, seatbelts do make a difference

A West Fargo woman and her passenger were thrown from their sport utility vehicle when the vehicle slid then flipped on an ice covered roadway. They were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash. She is survived by her two children ages 7 and 5.

This story plays out time and again across North Dakota. The North Dakota Department of Transportation recorded 1068 rollover crashes on North Dakota roadways during 2008. North Dakota recorded thirty-nine fatal rollovers crashes. Forty-one people were killed.

In contrast, injury occurred in 475 rollover crashes and affected 656 people. Property damage only crashes were reported in 554 cases.

Seat belt use proves to be beneficial to the occupants of a motor vehicle. During 2008 in North Dakota, only ten percent of the people killed in fatal rollover crashes were wearing seatbelts. Sixty-three percent of the people injured in a non-fatal rollover crash were wearing their seatbelt. Ninety percent of the people in a property only rollover crash were wearing their seatbelt.

Modern vehicles are designed to meet National Highway Traffic Standards to minimize injury resulting from a motor vehicle crash. Vehicles are equipped with energy absorbing components to dampen the impact of a collision. The passenger cabin is protected through bracing and protective panels which provide reinforcement similar to that found in the frame of a race car. Airbags are positioned to the front and side of occupants and deploy when activated during a crash. These safety features are passive and available to protect you without your input.

The only active safety feature in your vehicle is the shoulder and lap belts designed to securely hold occupants in position during a crash. The use of this safety feature requires your conscious decision to properly use the occupant restraint system. You must physically attach the restraints and properly position the belts to receive the maximum benefit.

Troopers at the scene of the fatal crash Feb. 23 reported the vehicle received significant damage. While significant, the extent of deformity was sufficiently limited for responders to believe the crash was survivable had the occupants remained within the cabin of the vehicle. The passive safety systems were in place and performed as designed. The occupants elected not to engage the final safety feature.

In North Dakota, during 2008, nine out of ten people killed in a rollover were not wearing seatbelts. Two out of three people injured in a rollover involving injury survived the crash while they were wearing a seatbelt. Nine out of ten people involved in a property damage only rollover received no injury at all while wearing a seatbelt. It is your choice to buckle up or not. How do you want to play the odds?

Buckle up every trip every time.