More than half of those killed in vehicle collisions in Texas in 1997 were not wearing safety belts, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. In an effort to buckle down on collision fatalities, TEEX’s Engineering, Utilities and Public Works Training Institute is driving home the message to Texans to “buckle up.”
Larry Baker, a program coordinator for the Institute, says that the new Rollover Convincer presentations use a small vehicle with a passenger compartment attached to simulate a vehicle rollover. Life-size dummies are placed in the compartment to simulate both the effects of proper and improper safety belt restraint.
Rollover Convincer presentations are available for both children and adult audiences and are divided into two parts — classroom and graphic demonstration. During the classroom presentation, the audience is presented with facts and statistical information as well as Texas law associated with wearing safety belts. During the rollover demonstration, the audience sees actual effects of a car that has flipped over carrying adults, infants in car seats, and children that are both properly restrained or not restrained.
Baker says the Rollover Convincer demonstrations were designed to grab the audience’s attention.
“If you read the paper or watch the news, you always hear of accidents where people died who were not wearing safety belts, regardless of their safety and the laws that require proper restraint required,” Baker says.
“We felt that these presentations would grab the attention of those who don’t wear safety belts regularly and reinforce the actions of those who do wear them.”
Baker says that these presentations also should be a critical part of utility worker training.
“The electrical power industry has had more fatalities caused by car accidents than by on-the-job electrical contact,” Baker said. “This demonstration is very important because it helps to encourage the community and employees in this industry to buckle up.”
The Rollover Convincer presentations have been made to utility companies and municipalities throughout Texas, including Lubbock, who used these as public safety demonstrations for elementary students.
Safety belts saved 11,088 lives in 1998, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is also estimated that 299 children under age 5 were saved as a result of proper safety belt restraint. If all vehicle passengers over age 4 wore safety belts regularly, the NHTSA estimates 20,355 lives could have been saved in 1998.
Baker says that there is still work to be done to increase public awareness of the importance of safety belts.
“We hope that the Rollover Convincer demonstrations will convince Texans to buckle up,” he said. “Wearing safety belts saves lives!”