Department of Highways, District 6
Seat Belt New Conference Helps Drivers Make a Life Saving Decision
Seat Belt News Conference Helps Drivers
Make a Life Saving Decision
Covington, Kentucky – (February 21, 2006) – Today the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 6 partnered with St. Elizabeth Medical Center and held a news conference to provide information regarding the need and importance of the passing of the Primary Seat Belt Law. The Seat Belt Bill, HB 86, passed out of the House Committee and now goes before the full House of Representatives. The vote is expected soon.
The purpose of today’s event was to increase awareness of wearing a seat belt. As of yesterday, there were 91 fatalities on our Kentucky roadways in which 58% of those fatalities were not wearing a seat belt. If at least one person is convinced to wear a seat belt it will justify the true meaning of communicating this important law.
Kentucky’s seat belt usage rate is 67% which ranks the state 47th in the nation. In 2005 985 people died in highway crashes. Two thirds of those were not wearing safety belts.
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 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 Drive Smart Rollover Simulator was on display outside of the Visitor’s Entrance. It is a wonderful visual that uses dummies to show what can actually happen if you are not buckled up and involved in a roll over crash.
Several people attended the news conference which also included high school students from Bishop Brossart, and Dixie Heights. Ron Heiert, Developmental Director at Bishop Brossart High School was happy to attend the event with some of his students. He said, "Kentucky's proposed Primary Seat Belt Law is in effect, a very controversial issue with statistics, demographics, and education playing into the equation. Seat belts and restraints save lives....of all ages. Pass the Primary obstacle and reach the ultimate destination. End of Class."
Dr. John Sherman, Chairman of the Emergency Medicine Department at St. Elizabeth Medical Center said, “The physicians and staff in the St. Elizabeth emergency department strongly support this legislation and believe it will encourage more people to wear their seat belts consistently. We see situations in the ER day in and day out where seat belts make the difference between life and death and injuries that are minor or those that will involve a long, painful recovery.”
Mark Ramler, a junior at U.K. architectural student from Cold Spring, Kentucky offered his personal testimony. He was a freshman at UC and a member of the men’s rowing team. On November 15, 2003 he was traveling on US 27 to Oxford, Ohio for a race at Miami University when he was hit head on by a drunk driver. Mark spent nine days in the hospital. He had 12 broken bones and five surgeries as a result of the accident and spent months in physical therapy. Mark said, “I really consider myself a living miracle because it could have been so much worse, especially if I had not had on my seat belt.” He also said that if there was one thing he wanted to tell people today it would be “it only takes a second to buckle up and make a life saving decision.”
Boyd Sigler, Highway Safety Manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet concluded by saying, “People are constantly making excuses as to why Kentucky should not have a primary safety belt law.” He continued saying, “When you talk to family members and friends of individuals who died in traffic crashes and were not wearing a safety belt, those excuses mean very little. This has nothing to do with personal rights or political parties. It has everything to do with saving lives.”
Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn made remarks at the News Conference.
Dr. John Sherman, Chairman of the Emergency Medicine Department at St. Elizabeth Medical gave a doctors view of what they see in the emergency rooms and how many of the injuries could have been avoided if the person had just used their seat belt.
Mark Ramler, a Saved By the Belt recipient, shared his story on how his seat belt saved his life when he was hit by a drunk driver in 2003.