“Click It Or Ticket” may be a slogan to promote seat belt usage, but it becomes real when a young man who nearly died in an auto crash makes the appeal.
“I was lucky and lived,” said Tyler Batten. “Bad things can happen. We are not invincible. Just wear a seat belt.”
Batten, 21, surrounded by police officers and Delaware Area Career Center students, spoke Thursday at the Delaware Area Career Center’s South Campus to begin the “Click It Or Ticket” campaign in Delaware County. Overhead, pictures of the wrecked vehicle and Batten in his hospital bed were shown.
On July 7, 2012, Batten was involved in a rollover crash on Peachblow Road. He was not wearing a seat belt, and was ejected from his vehicle, suffering a traumatic brain injury. Miraculously, the Galena resident survived, graduated from Olentangy High School in 2013 and is currently a junior at Otterbein University.
However, Batten said it has been a “long struggle” for him, and he doesn’t remember the crash or much of 2012.
Dr. Dawn Prall of Mount Carmel Emergency Care in Lewis Center said that one of the first questions she asks patients who have been in a crash is whether they wore a seat belt. If they did, she thanks them for making her job easier.
“The human body wasn’t meant to be a projectile,” Prall said. “We can’t handle force-related injuries from acceleration and deceleration.”
Prall said that even if a person appears to be outwardly fine after an accident and not wearing a seat belt, serious internal injuries can appear later.
“Clicking would save thousands of lives every year,” Prall said.
Delaware County has an 85 percent seat belt usage rate, said Lt. Marcus Pirrone, Ohio State Highway Patrol Post 21 commander. He said that 20 percent of the 3,000 tickets issued annually involve people not wearing their seat belts. In addition, half of crash fatalities were due to not wearing seat belts.
“Click It Or Ticket” is presented by the Delaware General Health District’s Safety Awareness For Everyone Coalition in advance of the Memorial Day weekend.
This year is expected to be the second-highest Memorial Day travel volume on record, said AAA Ohio spokeswoman Kimberly Schwind. Nearly 1.49 million Ohioans will travel at least 50 miles from home between May 26-30, an increase of nearly 2 percent. The increase is due to lower gas prices and rising personal income.
“A seat belt is a small thing, but small things can have big consequences,” said Jackie Bain, SAFE Coalition coordinator.
For a “Click It To Live Tool Kit,” visit www.delawarehealth.org
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.