Seat Belt Rejection - Alabamians Not Buckling Up

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By Ashley Thompson

Just about every week, we bring you news of horrific car accidents in our area where occupants are killed.

Most of the victims involved in these car wrecks have one thing in common, they weren't wearing a seat belt.

Law officials say it's a growing trend, one that is taking too many lives, especially in Alabama.

It's so simple, taking just a few seconds to put on your seat belt. But statistics show the majority of Alabamians are not. And state troopers say they've heard every reason in the book as to why not.

Almost every day, law enforcement agents are called out to scenes trying to investigate and pick up the pieces after car wrecks. And state troopers say 70 percent of the time, people inside of those cars are not buckled up. Clara Jordan was one of them.

"My mom was my best friend," says Shannon Williams. "She was my everything and I'm an only child so that was my connection. She was kind of like my backbone, my platform."

January 20th 2014 is a date Williams says she'll never forget. It's the day her mom, Clara Jordan was killed in a four-vehicle-car wreck in Lowndes County.

"On that day, she had just left home maybe a minute before impact I would say. A minute to a minute and a half."

In just that short time, Jordan was struck by a speeding truck and thrown from her car. She was unable to buckle up that day because the seat belt latch wasn't working, though she knew the importance of wearing one. Jordan had just retired from Key Safety Systems, a seat belt manufacturer, after 30 years.

"The seat belt was broken and it's normally working but I guess that day she was unable to put it on," Williams tells us.

Although Jordan was unable to buckle up, State Trooper Steve Jarrett says more and more people are CHOOSING not to wear seat belts. He says it's a trend that's on the rise.

"A lot of our fatality crashes are single vehicle crashes," he explains. "The vehicle leaves the roadway, overturns and occupants are ejected and killed because they're not wearing seat belts."

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention finds those not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be thrown from a car during a crash and three out of four people ejected from a vehicle will be killed.

Some seat belts adjust for comfort and some cars will beep if you're not strapped in but people still aren't wearing seat belts for many reasons. We asked Montgomery residents for a few.

"They don't look cool with a seat belt on," says Shaniell Long.

"You usually don't get reminded until you see a cop," says Marquice Burch.

"It scars your neck" says William Miles. "I've been in accidents where it scarred me."

"Some people think it's confining," says Carmen Jones.

"They don't like to put it on in the back seat because they think oh, I'm in the backseat, I don't need it on," says Katherine Jones.

And Attorney Troy King represents accident victims, who many times, are not buckled up. He says he too hears the reasons why his clients don't put on seat belts.

"The most common thing I hear people say is, I don't want to do that, it'll wrinkle my clothes," King says. "And I have to tell them, you ought to see the clothes of the people who don't have on seat belts, when they pull them out of a ditch and they're covered in blood."

"There's all kinds of excuses but there's no intelligent reason why any intelligent person would not want to wear a seat belt," says Jarrett. "It's common sense but let me remind you first and foremost, it's state law."

And for Clara Jordan, like so many others, a quick click may have saved her life.

"It's been rough," says Shannon Williams. "It's to the point it's almost unbearable but I keep going because I have two children and that's what kind of keeps me grounded."

 

 

 

 

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