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Seatbelt Safety: How One Young Man’s Life Might Have Been Saved


Polk County residents know that I-4 is not only one of the main means of commuting to and from the major work cities of Orlando and Tampa, but is also one of the primary causes of vehicle accidents in our area. Our local news is constantly reporting accidents of all levels of severity, and Saturday was no exception. On August 13th, an 18-year old young man was killed when the driver of the pickup truck he was traveling in lost control and flipped near mile marker 35. Francisco Dominguez was pronounced dead at the scene, and the driver and second passenger were hospitalized with serious injuries. It was a sad situation and perhaps what’s even worse, the severity might have been avoided.

In this accident, officials have reported that none of the three occupants of the truck were wearing seat belts. Seat belt use is proven to reduce the likelihood of death by 45%, and the chance of severe injury by at least 50%. Just as important as using restraints in a vehicle though, is to use them properly. Using seatbelt, safety seats, or other restraints can actually cause more damage than help if they are being worn improperly.

So, how do you ensure that everyone in your car is ready for whatever comes your way?

  • Make sure seat belts are fitted properly. The lap portion of the belt should sit on the hips, not cut across the belly of the passenger. The shoulder belt should hit in the middle of the shoulder area, not across the side of the neck and face. Most vehicles allow for some adjustment in the height of the belt, but if yours doesn’t, you might want to invest in a secondary device that can be installed to make sure your seat belt is sitting properly and will offer the most effective protection.
  • Children who are not yet ready for an adult seat belt must be placed in age-appropriate safety seats. Babies under the age of 2 should remain in a rear-facing child seat for the best protection in the event of a collision, and many experts say your child should stay rear-facing as long as possible. Once your child has outgrown this position, look for a seat that offers side impact protection, and has a 5-point harness system. The harness should sit across the middle of the chest, on the breastbone (not up at the throat, or down in the belly area) and should be snug on the shoulders. If your child has outgrown a full carseat, but is not ready for a stand-alone seat belt, there are a variety of booster seats on the market now that offer impact protection, and assist in properly fitting a seat belt across your child’s lap and shoulder.
  • Pets should be restrained too! A loose pet in a car can cause serious injury in an accident, and they can also cause accidents by distracting the driver. Pet seat belts can be easily installed in most vehicles and are available at many pet stores, big box stores, and online. Another option is to crate your pet security in the cargo area of your vehicle.

Not wearing a seat belt is putting yourself and your passengers at risk, and we encourage you to think twice before you decide not to fasten that belt. There’s a reason it’s the law! We also know that even if you are wearing your belt and are as protected as possible, accidents can still come your way and are rarely expected. When the unexpected happens, at Sessums Law Group, we STAND FOR YOU, and we are prepared to represent residents of the greater Lakeland area in any case so they will receive the compensation and support they deserve.

Don’t forget to buckle up when you hit the road!

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