LOUISVILLE, KY (February 24, 2006) – The lobby of Kosair Children’s Hospital was filled today with people from around Louisville showing their support for a primary seat belt law. Those attending the rally included a broad cross-section of society including members of the medical community, business and civic leaders, law enforcement officers, safety advocates and local office holders.
“Two out of three people killed in highway crashes last year were not wearing a seat belt,” said Jim Adams, Deputy Secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Chairman of the Governor’s Executive Committee on Highway Safety. “There is absolutely no good reason why even one life should be lost in Kentucky or why one person should become seriously,” continued Deputy Secretary Adams. “It’s time to get serious about a primary seatbelt law in Kentucky.”
In 2005, 986 lives were lost in crashes on Kentucky’s highways. Thousands more people were seriously injured in crashes because they were not wearing a seatbelt. The medical community tries to help these people put their lives back together.
“As a trauma physician I meet families during some of the worst moments of their lives. They are looking to me and other physicians to fix their child’s injuries,” said Mary Fallat, M.D., chief of surgery at Kosair Children’s Hospital. “Many of the automobile-related injuries we see could have been prevented if seat belts or age/weight-appropriate child passenger restraints had been used.”
Recent research from the University of Kentucky’s Transportation Center and from the Kentucky Institute of Medicine revealed some startling projections concerning the impact a primary seat belt law would have on Kentucky families and the state’s economy. Some of highlights include:
· At least 62 fewer fatalities per year
· 388 fewer incapacitating spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries
· 1,051 fewer non-incapacitating injuries from accidents involving passenger vehicles and light trucks.
· Kentucky’s Medicaid budget would save a minimum of $40.9 million over 10 years, including $2.2 million the first year and $585,000 per year for long-term medical care.
· Overall, Kentucky would save $324 million in comprehensive costs (lost life years and productivity).
The crowd also heard a testimonial from Phil Williams of Louisville. Williams survived an accident in 2005 that involved his truck flipping over. “I would most likely have been thrown from the cab had it not been for my seatbelt,” said Williams. “I hung upside down suspended by the seatbelt while waiting for help to arrive. I only suffered minor injuries, but it was nothing compared to what might have happened without the seatbelt.”
The recently approved federal highway reauthorization bill includes another incentive for a primary seat belt law. Under the federal bill, if Kentucky adopts a primary seat belt law, the state will get an additional $11.2 million in federal funds to use for safety improvements on state roads.
Current statistics show about 67 percent of Kentuckians wear their seat belt. The state ranks 47th nationally in seat belt usage.
House Bill 86 (HB 86), the primary seat belt bill, is expected to come up for another vote by the House of Representatives during this session.