Glass shattered, metal bent and blood pooled on the football field at Hixson High School on Thursday as public health and safety experts staged a mock car crash to drive home the importance of seatbelt use.
With students looking on from the stands, emergency medical personnel responded to a two-car crash. The need for public awareness about seatbelt is reflected in research: Studies show only 68% of Americans wear seatbelts, and that use of lap and shoulder seatbelts can reduce the likelihood of fatal injury in front seat passengers by 45 percent and the chance of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.
Statistics from Erlanger hospital, the region's Level 1 trauma center, show about 38 percent of patients suffered injuries from crashes because they did not wear seatbelts.
Thursday's event was part was Tennessee's Battle of the Belt initiative, and was supported by Erlanger, Hamilton County EMS, Chattanooga Fire Department and Hamilton County Sheriffs's Department. There also was an unannounced seatbelt check at the school to determine a baseline of how many students, teachers and parents are wearing their seatbelts. Students will develop a safety campaign to educate the school community, then conduct another unannounced seatbelt use check.