Buckle up for your family

Published 11:02 pm Friday, April 20, 2012

There was tragic news this week of an early morning crash on Holland Road that resulted in the death of a 16-year-old Virginia Beach boy and injuries to his family members in the vehicle, including his parents, two sisters — including a 3-year-old — and a brother.

According to police, 43-year-old James Patrick Normile IV fell asleep at the wheel as the family was headed home from a spring break trip to Puerto Rico. An hour from home, their world came apart for them as their 2004 Toyota Sequoia ran off the road to the left into the median, struck a culvert and rolled onto its side. Normile’s wife and 3-year-old daughter were thrown from the vehicle.

Police reports that none of the occupants of the vehicle were wearing seatbelts or were in approved car seats at the time of the accident make the heartbreaking story all the more tragic.


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According to the National Safety Council, wearing a seatbelt can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Institute estimates that seatbelt usage saved more than 75,000 lives from 2004 to 2008.

In a 30-mph collision, an unbelted 160-pound person can strike another passenger, crash through a windshield or slam into the vehicle’s interior with a 4,800-pound force, which explains why, according to government statistics, 25 percent of serious injuries to passengers in car crashes are caused by occupants being thrown into each other.

Nationwide, seatbelt usage has grown from 69 percent in 1998 to 88 percent in 2009, according to the National Safety Council, which also notes that 42 percent of those who died in automobile accidents in 2007 were unbelted.

Seatbelt usage is not just a silly law. It can be a life-or-death decision. It’s a decision that could spare your family the heartbreaking news that Hampton Roads learned earlier this week.

If for no other reason, buckle up for your family.