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8 Year Old’s Death Spotlights Need For Back Seat Safety Belt Use

8-year-old Jeremiah Newman was tragically killed in a head-on automobile accident, last Saturday, October 10, 2009. Jeremiah, a third grade elementary student from Jackson, Michigan, was a rear-seat passenger in a 1998 minivan being driven by his mother. His father, grandparents and brother were also passengers in the van. Unfortunately, Jeremiah was not wearing a seat belt. Apparently, the minivan, heading west on M-50 in Napoleon Township, MI crossed over unto the eastbound shoulder and was hit by an oncoming vehicle while attempting to get back into the westbound lane.

Barbara Dixon, of Napoleon Township, MI who was driving the oncoming eastbound vehicle, tried but failed to miss the van when it came back across. The van rolled over on impact and young Jeremiah was thrown from the vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Jeremiah’s grandfather, Gerald R. Lafond, 50, was also injured and listed in serious condition. Other occupants, Jeremiah’s grandmother, Carol Lafond, 58, father Robert Newman, 33 and brother Brandon Newman, 12 were either treated and released or considered in “good” condition. Ms. Dixon was also listed in “good” condition.

Obviously, this tragedy spotlights the need to remind all of us to “buckle up”. An investigation of this accident is still pending and it is educated speculation that the lack of a seat belt contributed to Jeremiah’s death. However, according to the “Seat Belt Statistics” page of James Madison University’s Comprehensive Safety Plan, one out of every five drivers will be involved in a traffic crash this year, approximately 35,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes each year, and approximately 50% of those could be saved if they had been wearing their safety belts. The site also provides this alarming statistic:

“For every one percent increase in safety belt use, 172 lives and close to $100 million in annual injury and death costs could be saved.”

Most of us are familiar with the statistic that the majority of accidents, deaths and injuries occur within 25 miles from home. Thus, the thought that “I’m only going a few miles” doesn’t cut it when we consider whether or not to fasten our safety belts. Please, whoever is reading this post, fasten your safety belt, every time, whether traveling short or long distance. According to the James Madison site, motorists are 25 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured when thrown from the vehicle than when they remain inside the vehicle. Had Jeremiah’s family been aware of this sobering statistic, things may have been different.

Lawsuit Financial encourages all drivers to fasten their safety belts. Drivers can also refuse to drive away until all passengers fasten their belts, as well. According to the James Madison site, 90% of people who are asked to buckle up, will do so, when asked. You may be the safest driver in America, but you never know who is coming around the next corner, curve, or over the next hill. I have previously written about how auto accidents can change lives or, in this case, take lives, in an instant. Please, don’t be a statistic; fasten your safety belts, every time.