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No seat belt = serious injury

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

No seat belt = serious injury

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
April 26, 2011

Is there a relationship between not wearing a seat belt and a serious injury in an intersection accident?

On Friday a crash occurred at the intersection of Route 173 and Johnson Road, which is less than one mile west of Hebron, Ill. The southbound driver, an 18-year-old woman from Cary in a Chevrolet Cavalier, apparently pulled out in front of a westbound Dodge Ram.

A 16-year-old McHenry boy in the Cavalier didn't have his seat belt on and is in critical condition at Centegra Hospital - Woodstock. The driver and another passsenger were treated and released.

I haven't been through that intersection recently, but it must be outside Hebron, where the speed limit on Route 173 is 55MPH. This would be why the McHenry County Sheriff's Dept. investigated the crash. What kind of distraction inside a vehicle causes a driver to misjudge the distance and speed of an approaching vehicle and pull out in front of it? Noise in the car? Loud radio? Cell phone? Texting? Driver's reliance on a passenger to indicate that no car is close?

The newspaper article doesn't mention where the boy was sitting in the Cavalier. If he was seated behind the driver, it might not have made a lot of difference whether he had a seat belt on or not. He would have been near the point of impact. On the other hand, if he was seated in the right-rear seat or the right-front seat, then he probably was thrown inside the vehicle, and a seat belt would have kept him in place.

A smart driver refuses to move a vehicle until all occupants are buckled up. Passengers ought to be interested in self-preservation, but some aren't. So then it's up to the driver to insist that they buckle up.

What's the rule in your car?

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