South Carolina Attorney Urges Parents To Talk With Teen Drivers About Seat Belt Use

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In light of National Teen Driver Safety Week, parents should discuss proper seat belt use with their teen drivers, says Columbia, S.C., personal injury attorney Bert Louthian.

Bert Louthian

Teen drivers need to know the risk of a catastrophic or fatal injury if they drive without a seat belt. They should also know that studies show that wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of suffering a fatal injury by as much as 50 percent.

South Carolina personal injury lawyer Bert Louthian says parents should take the time to remind their teen drivers about the vital importance of wearing seat belts.

“Unfortunately, I think young and inexperienced drivers tend to see seat belts as optional,” says Louthian, a partner in The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., which represents car accident and truck accident victims.

“With National Teen Driver Safety Week having just occurred, it’s the ideal time to remind teens that seat belts are not optional. Instead, they’re required by law and absolutely necessary for protecting them if they are in a motor vehicle accident.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teen drivers buckle up less frequently than any other age group. In a 2006 NHTSA survey, only 76 percent of teens reported observing seat belt use.

That’s an alarming statistic, considering the high rate of serious injuries and fatalities suffered by those who are not buckled up at the time of a car or truck collision, Louthian says.

Through Oct. 18, 2010, a total of 466 people have died this year in automobile accidents on South Carolina interstate routes, highways and streets, according to the S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS), including 29 deaths so far in the month of October.

Out of the state’s 2010 traffic fatalities, 256 victims were reported to not be wearing seat belts, or roughly 55 percent, the SCDPS reports.

“Teen drivers need to know the risk of a catastrophic or fatal injury if they drive without a seat belt,” Louthian says. “They should also know that studies show that wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of suffering a fatal injury by as much as 50 percent.”

According to the SCDPS, seat belts help to prevent ejection, shift car crash forces to the strongest parts of the body’s structure, spread forces over a wide area of the body, allow the body to slow down gradually and protect the head and spinal cord from injury.

Since 2005, South Carolina has followed a primary enforcement seat belt law, meaning that a police officer has authority to stop and ticket a driver for not wearing a seat belt. In the wake of the law, seat belt use has increased from 69.7 percent in 2005 to 81.5 percent in 2009, the SCDPS reports.

“The question is – are your teen drivers getting the message? Now is as good of a time as any to make sure they are getting it,” Louthian says. “As a personal injury lawyer, I have witnessed the devastating impact of car and truck accidents on victims and their families, and that’s why I feel strongly that we need to make sure our young drivers are driving safely.”

About The Louthian Law Firm

The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., of Columbia, S.C., has been obtaining fair compensation for personal injury victims since 1959. The firm was founded by Herbert Louthian, who has more than 50 years of trial experience and is licensed to practice in all courts in South Carolina. The Louthian Law Firm focuses on personal injury cases involving medical malpractice; car, truck and motorcycle accidents; and other serious and catastrophic injuries throughout South Carolina. For a free, confidential case evaluation, contact the firm by phone at (866) 410-5656 or through its online form.

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