Illinois Hands Out “Saved By The Belt” Award To Save Driver

CHICAGO (CBS) — The state offered a new way to show people how important it is to wear seat belts in moving vehicles, by handing out its “Saved by the Belt” award.

IDOT, joined by representatives of the Illinois State Police Department, the Chicago Police Department and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, gave out the award Thursday morning on the southern end of Lincoln Park to 34-year-old Plano resident Samantha Frahm who is pregnant and was involved in a serious crash Dec. 23 on a rural road in Newark. She was able to walk away from the crash with a scratch and some bruises because she was wearing her seat belt. WBBM’s Bernie Tafoya reports.

Frahm tells WBBM the roads were “kind of slick that day” and she lost control of her car. It rolled over three or four times, landing on the driver’s side.

Frahm said first responders were able to pull away enough of the front windshield so that she could crawl out of the car.

She was taken to a hospital for her minor injuries and her unborn son was okay.

Frahm said she did not always wear a seat belt. When she first started driving, she said she did not wear it because it “just seemed like a nuisance”. hen, she got a traffic ticket for not wearing a seat belt and, she said, she has worn one ever since.

“I learned my lesson. Now, I don’t get in the car without doing it,” she said.

Police are preparing for motorists hitting the roads over the summer and say they are taking a zero tolerance approach to people who are not wearing seat belts.

“The more people understand, if they stay inside the vehicle, their chances of living increase extremely,” said Illinois State Police Commander David Byrd. “If you get thrown outside your vehicle, now you have other objects that you can strike. Stationary objects, concrete, of course, another vehicle.”

Priscilla Tobias, IDOT’s director for program development, says that, in 2015 alone, “641 vehicle occupants who died in a vehicle crash and the seat belt use was known, 45 percent were unrestrained.”

She also said that, last year, seat belt compliance in Illinois was 93 percent, 2.2 percentage points lower than the prior year.

“While seat belts saved nearly 14,000 lives in 2015, many more could have survived had they simply buckled up,” said Darin Jones, Regional Administrator for the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration.

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