• Published
  • By Laurie Eckert, RN
  • New Parent Support Nurse
Automobile accidents are Montana's number one killer. Not only are loved ones lost, but Montanan's absorb $36 million a year in direct inpatient care costs, with each injury costing $53,000 for average hospital charges. Unbelted drivers and passengers are responsible for about $9.9 million in preventable emergency room visits each year.

Throughout life, we are all forced to make decisions and choices. Many of these decisions involve the welfare of others, including learning how to be a safe driver. Seventy-nine percent of Montana families chose to wear their seat belts but in 2009, the other 21 percent who refused to wear their seat belts were responsible for more than 124 deaths. Montana also had 1,336 incapacitating injuries because someone did not buckle up.

By law, children must be belted in a car seat or booster seat until they are at least 6 years old and 60 pounds. Don't make the mistake of belting your child or loved one in but not yourself, as you can crush them if you are thrown in an accident.

Why use seat belts? Not only do they prevent ejection but they protect your body's vital parts by distributing the crash force over the entire body. This allows the body to work with the vehicle through the crash while protecting the head, neck and spinal cord. Would you get into an amusement park ride without a safety belt?

Families are a gift. We all owe it to each of them to do what we can to remain healthy and alive.

PLEASE...wear your seat belt.