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Illinois Teens Not Buckling Up, Putting Their Lives at Risk

December 1, 2011 Published in Articles

We’ve all been there: When we’re young, we believe that we’re invincible and the rules just don’t apply to us. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking usually got us into a lot of trouble – and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this kind of thinking may contribute to teenagers refusing to use seat belts. In fact, these agencies report that teen drivers are the least likely to use seat belts when they’re driving a car, as well as when they are the passenger of a car.

This trend is no different in Illinois, despite the fact that failing to wear a seat belt has been against the law for about 25 years. In order to strengthen the state’s seat belt laws, Illinois will soon make it mandatory for the backseat passengers of a vehicle to also buckle up.

But the state’s teens may need a little bit more convincing than a fine – which is currently $25, plus court fees and penalties, for drivers who are caught not wearing a seat belt.

One driving instructor at Danville High School, is working to get through to his students about the dangers of not wearing a seat belt in a unique way: He is actually showing them. Through a demonstration that is conducted by Illinois State Police Sergeant Bill Emery, students get to see for themselves the kinds of risks from motor vehicle accidents they face on the roads.

“It simulates a 7-mile-per-hour accident. The sled goes down an incline and hits a wall,” the driving instructor told The Commercial-News. “It shows the force just going 7 miles per hour. They drive faster than that going across the parking lot at school. We hope it convinces them to wear their seat belt.”

If demonstrations like these don’t convince teens to buckle up, the consequences for them could be dire. According to the National Safety Council, more than 50 percent of vehicle occupants who were killed in car accidents around the country were not wearing a seat belt. And for teenagers, according to the CDC, not wearing a seat belt is one of the most common causes of car accident fatalities.