Be smart and wear a seatbelt

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, May 26, 2012

When will people learn?

On Mother’s Day, seven children and three adults in an SUV were driving from Missouri home to Mississippi on Interstate 55. A tire blew out. The vehicle skidded off the highway, flipped several times and came to rest with no passengers in the car. Every one of the 10 — already too many people for a car built for eight people — were thrown. Not one of them was wearing a seat belt.

Three children ages 13, 10 and an infant were killed. Three adults and four other children were taken to hospitals. Police said tires on the 1999 Ford Expedition were smaller than regulation and that caused the blowout.

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The outcome of that wreck might or might not have been different had all the passengers been wearing seat belts, but it would have at least given an added level of safety and protection. If an adult refuses to be belted in, that is his or her prerogative. But not belting in children is inexcusable.

In 2010, 641 people were killed on Mississippi highways, down from 783 in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With the end of school and beginning of the summer driving season nearing, we implore everyone to drive responsibly. It sounds like a broken record, but until everyone begins heeding commonsense advice, it will continue to be issued.

The Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol began its annual “Click-it or Ticket” campaign Monday. It will run through the Memorial Day holiday. The program is designed to put more law officers on roads to monitor for seat belt scofflaws.

The Mother’s Day crash in Missouri is a sobering reminder of how dangerous driving can be. At 75 mph, the slightest misstep can end in a family being torn apart. Seat belts could not have prevented the accident in Missouri.

It might have prevented three deaths, though, or at least given those killed a chance.