The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


November 14, 2013

Be safe during the holidays

Buckle up and quit texting while driving

JOHNSTOWN — We were dismayed and saddened by the news of the death of a Boswell woman who crashed her car early Saturday morning on Route 30. She was not wearing her seat belt and it is suspected by the coroner’s office that “cellphone use is believed to have played a factor in the incident.”

This is a tragedy and our hearts and prayers go out to the family.

Driving on the roads at any time can be dangerous for anyone, experienced or not, if we are not alert and aware of every moment behind the wheel. And it is not just young people who need to be reminded of that fact.

The holidays are upon us and the highways are more congested and busy. In the rush to get where we are going, we sometimes forget to do some very basic things that could mean the difference between a fender bender and possibly even losing our lives.

We take this moment to remind you and your passengers to please wear your seat belts every time and never, ever talk or text from your cellphone while operating a motor vehicle. We urge you to remind one other person, nag them if you have to, confiscate cellphones if you must or remove driving privileges if your children ignore your wishes in this regard. You could be saving a life. We urge parents to show no possibility of compromise from these demands while they are operating a motor vehicle. Never forget, vehicles can be replaced, but our children or loved ones cannot be replaced.

The following are some statistical reminders of the dangers of driving distracted or not wearing your seat belts:

n According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 660,000 plus drivers use cellphones at any given time during daylight hours in the United States. Texting while driving makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash. Drivers talking on a cellphone are four times more likely to have a car accident. Talking on a cellphone while driving can make a young driver’s reaction time as slow as that of a 70-year-old. Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. That is enough time to travel the length of a football field. Studies have found that texting while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road.

n Most drivers and passengers killed in crashes are unrestrained. Fifty-three percent of drivers and passengers killed in car crashes were not wearing restraints. Seat belts dramatically reduce risk of death and serious injury. Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash. People not wearing a seatbelt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. Three out of four people who are ejected during a crash die from their injuries.

We here at The Tribune-Democrat would love it if we never again had to report on a death caused from texting or using a cellphone or not wearing a seat belt.

Please take extra care while on the roads this busy holiday season.

Please do not use your cellphone and always buckle up while driving. Doing those two things together could very well mean the difference between YOUR life and death.

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