For more information contact: Boonshoft School of Medicine, Judi Engle, Office of Public Relations, (937) 775-2951

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2002

Wright State's Department of Emergency Medicine
Promotes "Buckle Up America" Message

DAYTON, OHIO-The latest statistics are giving a sobering reason to support Buckle Up America Week (May 20-27). Nothing kills more teenagers than motor vehicle crashes, and more often than not, the teenager isn't buckled up!

Nationwide, more than 4,600 young people age 16 to 18-years-old were killed or seriously injured in fatal traffic crashes in 2000, according to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Two thirds of them-67 percent-were not wearing seat belts. That same year in Ohio, 105 young people in this age group were killed or injured;
65 percent of them were not buckled up.

With thousands of young people on the road this Memorial Day holiday, Wright State's Department of Emergency Medicine is stepping up with a message for teenagers who think it couldn't happen to them: You're wrong. Dead wrong. "Between the age of 16 and 18, young people are at a deadly intersection of age and high risk behavior," said Mark Gebhart, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine and director of the Greater Miami Valley EMS Council. "Inexperience at the wheel and more likely to take chances, these teenagers are at a time in their life when seat belts are essential. Yet, too many teens don't buckle up, and end up in our emergency departments disabled, scarred or dead. Our message to teens this spring is simple: Secure your date. Secure everyone in your car. Buckle up-during prom, during the week, in fact every time you get in the car."

In 49 states and the District of Columbia, there's also another reason to wear a seat belt: avoiding a ticket. Seat belt use is the law in every state but New Hampshire. During Buckle Up America Week, law enforcement agencies across the country will be launching Operation ABC Mobilizations to ensure that people wear their seat belts. During this time, Ohio will promote the What's Holding You Back campaign to warn motorists that they should buckle up, and to ticket those who don't.

"As a physician, I feel it is part of my mission to practice preventive medicine-in this case preventing both injuries and death," said Gebhart. "If teenagers know the facts about seat belts, I think they'll make smart decisions."