Shaw: Time to save already-born lives in North Dakota
"The vast majority of North Dakota legislators call themselves pro-life," writes columnist Jim Shaw. "They’re all about protecting the unborn. If they are really pro-life, they should pass a primary seat belt law and save lives of the born."
The latest statistics are alarming. According to the North Dakota Department of Transportation, 67% of those killed in motor vehicle accidents are not wearing their seat belts. These are preventable deaths.
It’s clear that the state’s secondary seat belt law is a failure, because it has no teeth to encourage drivers to buckle up. A primary seat belt law would certainly save lives.
Here are some recent accident reports from the North Dakota Highway Patrol, where the drivers who died likely would have survived if they wore their seat belts. I have left out the driver’s names, so the grieving families would not suffer any more pain.
- Victim was a 48-year-old man from Pekin: “The driver lost control of the vehicle and the vehicle rolled into the west ditch coming to rest on its roof. The driver was ejected from the vehicle and suffered fatal injuries from the crash.”
- Victim was an 88-year-old man from Zap: “The Can-Am turned towards 1st St NW and it struck the boat trailer of the Dodge Pickup. The driver was ejected and was later pronounced deceased at Sanford Hospital in Bismarck.”
- Victim was a man from Mandan (age not listed): “The Wrangler was traveling in an erratic manner and drove through the intersection and into the west ditch of N.D. Highway 1806. The Wrangler impacted an embankment, and the driver was ejected, and later died of his injuries at Sanford Hospital.”
- Victim was a 28-year-old man from Maxbass: “The vehicle traveled into the south ditch and rolled. The driver was unrestrained and ejected from the vehicle. The driver was pronounced deceased at the scene.”
- Victim was a 42-year-old man from Ryder: “The vehicle faulted off an approach and overturned end-over-end. The driver was partially ejected and was pronounced dead at the scene by the county coroner.” Note: Two 13-year-old passengers were wearing seat belts in that car, and survived the crash with minor injuries.
- Victim was a 24-year-old woman from Dickinson: “The woman’s vehicle crossed the center line…and was struck head on by another driver’s vehicle…She was fully ejected from the vehicle…pronounced deceased at the scene.” Note: Two people in the other car were wearing their seat belts, and survived the crash with minor or no injuries.”
- Victim was a 20-year-old man from Steele: “The driver’s vehicle rolled over coming to rest on its roof. The driver was not wearing a seat belt at the time and was fully ejected from the vehicle. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.”
During a crash, people not wearing a seat belt are a frightening 30 times more likely to be ejected from their vehicles. Roughly 80% of those people will die.
The vast majority of North Dakota legislators call themselves pro-life. They’re all about protecting the unborn. If they are really pro-life, they should pass a primary seat belt law and save lives of the born.
Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.