A rollover crash on I-84 claimed the life of a woman earlier this month. The wreck happened near Wendell, southeast of Boise, and although the sixty-six-year-old driver survived the initial crash, she died from her injuries while being airlifted to a Boise hospital.
According to news accounts, the vehicle drifted off the left side of the highway; the driver overcorrected and went off the right side. The vehicle rolled through a fence and eventually came to rest on railroad tracks running parallel to the highway. During the crash, the driver was ejected.
The headlines reporting this story all note that the driver died from the crash. That’s a tragedy, and we’re saddened for her family.
But we think it’s just as important to point something else out: Despite the distance the car rolled (in photos from the scene, it’s shown on its side at least thirty yards from the road), no one else was hurt. The other occupants, described only as “multiple juveniles” to protect their privacy, escaped harm because they were all wearing seat belts.
Each year, many people are killed in crashes because they aren’t belted in. During a crash, vehicle occupants are often violently thrown about the passenger compartment, which can result in serious injuries.
It can get even worse when a person is ejected during a crash: Victims are usually not cleanly thrown clear of the vehicle but often receive crushing injuries as the vehicle continues to roll. Even when someone is ejected without being crushed, they’re still likely to be badly hurt or killed.
Remember that when a vehicle crashes at 50 mph, everything in it (or ejected from it) is still moving at 50 mph. A study by AAA a few years ago determined that when a vehicle moving at 42 mph strikes a pedestrian, there is a 50 percent chance the pedestrian will be killed. It’s safe to assume that a passenger ejected at the same speed has at least the same chance of death.
A quick scan of the news will show you that rollover crashes with ejection fatalities happen frequently in Idaho. Last week, one man was killed and another seriously injured in a Canyon County crash. Two were injured and one killed in an earlier Bingham County crash. None of the victims were belted in.
It’s hard to believe that in 2017 a significant number of drivers and passengers don’t regularly use seat belts, but it’s true. Nationwide, the United States topped 90 percent seat belt use for the first time in 2016.
But that means one person in ten would be unrestrained in a crash. In Idaho, seat belt use has been just about 80 percent for the past several years. We can do a lot better (neighboring Washington and Oregon both hover around 95 percent use).
Seat belts can’t save everyone, but neither can airbags, yet you’ll find very few people who insist on buying a car with no airbags or who disable them before driving.
Belts help a lot, and years of data show that about half of those killed in a crash when not belted would probably have survived if they’d been wearing a seat belt. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that with 100 percent seat belt use, 4,000 to 5,000 crash fatalities would be spared each year.
After a crash, you need someone on your side to help you win the settlement you deserve from the driver who injured you. The attorneys at Craig Swapp & Associates understand automobile accident law and have the knowledge and experience needed to give your case the most thorough preparation possible.
Give us a call today at 1-800-404-9000 or fill out our online form below for more information about scheduling a free consultation.