Seat-belt use might have saved lives


For the second time in a month, we’ve been saddened to have to report the death of a teenager in a crash. And in both crashes, the boy who died was not wearing a seat belt. The others in the cars who were buckled up survived.

Speed appears to be another contributing factor. And both times, the teen drivers had passengers with them, well after the 10 p.m. curfew.

Regardless of the circumstances, the situation is tragic and, sadly, the deaths likely could have been prevented.

Parents should heed this information from the Web site “One of the biggest dangers facing teenagers may be sitting right next to them. Nothing kills more teens than car crashes, and little is riskier for new drivers than teen passengers.”

Last year, across the nation, teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 accounted for more than 4,200 deaths — the leading cause of death for teenagers — and 400,000 teens were treated in emergency rooms for injuries from motor vehicle crashes, according to the DMV.

Those facts alone should get our attention. But we remember those days of sneaking out in Pop’s car or telling our parents we were somewhere we weren’t. We were invincible. It’s something about being a teenager. That hasn’t changed.

But the laws have. Wearing seat belts is not an option. Sixteen- and 17-year-old drivers are not supposed to (a) be out after 10 p.m.,

(b) be driving AT ALL between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and (c) be carrying passengers under 20 at any time for the first 12 months unless they’re accompanied by a parent or guardian after they get their provisional license. That word “provisional” doesn’t come off the license until the driver reaches 18.

In both of these tragic cases, most of these laws appear to have been broken. But even with that, if all of the passengers’ seat belts had been buckled, Will and Alex might still be with us.