Two sisters who died in a Virginia car crash on Tuesday were wearing their seatbelts and alcohol was not a factor. In other words, the two main elements of most auto fatalities were not present.
A recent study published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than two-thirds of young drivers and passengers killed in nighttime car crashes were not wearing seatbelts. Although seatbelt use nationally has risen to an average of 81% (with 12 states having seatbelt usage of 90% or better), almost 7 out of 10 young people killed in car crashes in 2006 were unbuckled. With Memorial Day weekend here, police and public safety groups are launching a national campaign to increase seatbelt usage over the holiday weekend. Young drivers already bring a dangerous combination of inexperience and fearlessness to the highway, and not wearing a seatbelt only adds to the likelihood of serious injury or death when an accident occurs. Add in the final element of alcohol, which is common in fatal crashes involving drivers under age 30, and one readily understands why young motorists are at greater risk than older drivers. All Virginians should buckle up this weekend and make sure that our children and their friends use their seatbelts as well.