Safety first: This time it pays off

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Column by Jim Clark

By Jim Clark

One of our family members had a bit of a crisis over the weekend. His daughter, his friend and his friend’s two daughters were in a car that was smashed on the side in Gainesville.

His description that he wrote on Facebook was quite compelling. It seems that he and his son pulled up to the scene just seconds after it happened.

The vehicle was struck on the left front. The driver’s door and window were smashed, and the driver suffered an injured leg and some cuts and bruises, but was otherwise OK.

The three girls were fine and walked away.

So what’s the purpose of telling you all this? Simply put, all four people were either in seat belts or car seats.

I get accident reports regularly from the Florida Highway Patrol. They send out all the serious accidents and definitely all the fatalities. We get them from all over Florida, from Jacksonville down to Marion County.

I always look for two things: first, are the people involved from our area? Even if the accident happened in Jacksonville, I’ll publish it if it involves local folks. And, second, did they have their seat belts on?

It amazes me how many people don’t. Most of the time, those who are not elderly and are killed in a wreck weren’t wearing a seat belt. There was a bad one on the Interstate a little while back involving a family traveling to their home in Miami, coming from a funeral. Several were thrown from the vehicle.

Descriptions of single car accidents are usually similar: The driver was traveling at a high rate of speed, lost control and tried to over-correct. The vehicle rolled over and the driver was ejected and killed. “Ejected” is a fancy word for thrown from the car because there was no seat belt to keep them in.

So please, use those seat belts, whether you think you should or not. As a family, we’re grateful that some of ours are walking around today, even after a violent collision.

Make sure you’re around to tell your family about your accident. They’ll be glad you buckled that belt.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at editor@smcitizen.com or at 352-854-3986.