SuperTalk Mississippi

Simulator shows importance of seatbelt usage

Photo by News Mississippi

A new partnership is aiming to increase seatbelt usage across the state of Mississippi, especially amongst teenagers.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol and Families First for Mississippi are partnering to educate residents of the state on the dangers of not wearing your seatbelt. During a press conference, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety Marshall Fisher outlined Mississippi’s shortcomings when it comes to seatbelt usage.

Nationwide, around 90% of motorists wear their seatbelt, but in Mississippi, the number hovers right around 77%. In 2017, 268 Mississippi motorists died in a crash while they were not wearing a seatbelt. Colonel Chris Gillard stated that 1 out of every 2 people killed in a crash in the state is not buckled up.

As the department travels to educate the youth across the state, a new piece of technology will surely leave an impression on all drivers and potential drivers. Thanks to Families First, a simulator, which demonstrates the dangers of a car flipping over, will be brought into classrooms to show just how fatal these crashes can be.

“This rollover simulator will be vital to spreading the safety message across the state and bringing attention to the crashes we have where ejections occur and people lose their lives,” Captain Johnny Polous said.

“The motoring public is desensitized to traffic safety campaigns,” he said. “They hear it over and over about wearing your seatbelt, but this brings the reality, the visual effect of watching this vehicle turn.”

The simulator demonstrates a crash occurring around 35-45 mph, and while Polous said that they investigate crashes that occur at around 90 mph, the dangers remain the same. During a demonstration, mannequins are typically placed inside of the car without their seatbelt on, and they are thrown from the vehicle.

“If we could take the motoring public with us when we investigate crashes, you would see our crash rate decline dramatically,” Polous said. “This is the closest we can come to giving people an idea of what actually happens in a rollover crash.”

Major Seargent Criss Turnipseed (officer in the video above) said that the safest place to be during a crash is in the car, and buckling up is one way to ensure that you’re not launched out of the car. He also mentioned that everyone in the car should be buckled up to make sure that no one is thrown about.

“A human being inside of a car that’s not buckled up becomes a projectile in the car,” he said.

This is especially important with children in the car. Turnipseed reiterated that if an adult does not buckle up, you could become a danger to your children during a rollover crash.

Adults using their seatbelt is another focus that the Highway Patrol wants to push, and that’s another way that the partnership with Families First will come into play. With a presence in all counties across Mississippi, the organization holds seminars and works with children and adults to promote a better and healthier lifestyle.

“One of the things we emphasize is healthy choices. We want our teens, especially as they’re learning to drive, to practice healthy choices and safe driving. It’s never to soon to start, even with elementary students,” Co-Executive Director Dr. Nancy New said.

Christi Webb, Co-Executive Director, also mentioned the benefits of high school students speaking to young children about the importance of safe driving, especially seatbelt usage.

Captain Polous stated that the number of seatbelt citations and child restraint citations has drastically increased in recent months.

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