BPD urges safety during New Year's celebrations
This week, many people will hit the road as they travel to celebrate the New Year with friends or family. The Boonville Police Department urges people to drive safely, including wearing a seatbelt and staying sober.
Boonville Police Chief Bobby Welliver stated Missouri’s seat belt use is 79 percent, compared to 86 percent nationwide. Welliver added, car and SUV drivers are most likely to buckle up (85 percent) while truck (63 percent) and teen (67 percent) drivers are least likely to wear a seat belt.
"Seven out of 10 Missourians killed in a 2011 traffic crash were unbuckled," Welliver stated. "Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent."
Welliver outlined some important reasons why drivers should wear seatbelts.
"The most important reason for wearing a safety belt while driving is that it reduces the chances of injury by 50 percent if one meets with an accident. As wearing seat belts is a law, a person is heavily penalized if found not following the law. The driver, as well as the passengers in an automobile, should wear a seat belt," Welliver stated.
Welliver added, seat belts provide maximum safety if a driver is involved in an accident.
"It will prevent you from getting jerked to the sides or front if an accident occurs. If the driver applies an instant brake to the vehicle, he and the passengers are thrown forward due to the law of inertia. Wearing a seat belt will prevent this to a great extent," he stated. "After meeting with an accident, if it is found that the person has suffered injuries because of not wearing a seat belt, he is equally responsible for his injuries."
According to Welliver, a seat belt can protect a person's vital organs such as the head (brain) and chest (heart) from getting injured if he or she is involved in an accident.
"Many people complain that they would prefer being thrown out of the vehicle if in an accident instead of being stuck inside. On the contrary, it is safer for a person to be inside the vehicle as one cannot be sure how they would land, if thrown out of the vehicle. There may be even cases that the passengers collide with each other if the vehicle stops abruptly. Seat belts will definitely avoid this situation," he stated. "It also help people to avoid injuries caused in an accident due to drunk driving."
Welliver outlined some informative statistics.
"Statistics show that mostly the younger population between the ages of 16-35 are hardly found wearing seat belts. Facts also prove that 70 percent of the people wearing a seat belt have prevented injuries while being involved in an accident. It is found that nearly 10,000 lives can be saved every year only by wearing a seat belt," Welliver stated.
Safety for children is a huge concern for Welliver, especially when riding in a vehicle.
"One has to be exceptionally careful about child seat belt safety. Safety seats can also be installed in your cars if you have small children. People complain that safety belts cause irritation by rubbing across the neck. Shoulder pads or seat belt adjusters can be used if you find the belt uncomfortable. These products are easily available in automobile accessories stores. Maternity seat belts are also available for pregnant women who are unable to use normal ones. These specially designed belts are worn below the belly, on the thighs or lap and are used for safety of the mother and the unborn child," Welliver stated.
Welliver advises drivers to think about wearing seat belts at all times.
"One of the most important reasons to wear your seat belt is to insure safety and prevent injuries. Not following seat belt safety laws can be fatal. It can result in multiple injuries, fractures, brain damage, disfigurement and even death. Wearing a seat belt contributes significantly to and is an integral part of driving safely. Therefore, it is advisable to use it every single time you drive," he stated.
Welliver added, while wearing a seat belt is vital in being safe, he cautions individuals not to get behind the wheel if they are under the influence of any drugs or alcohol as well.
"We will be out working a DWI Enforcement so there will be extra officers working strictly traffic and looking for intoxicated drivers. I would caution people to not drive after they have been drinking. They can call a friend, relative or taxi, which is safer for both themselves and the public. There is no reason to drive drunk and the Boonville Police Department has zero tolerance. If you are intoxicated and driving, you will be arrested. We want people to have fun and enjoy, but be safe," Welliver stated.