Kenny Rogers responded to a car crash several years ago on West Drive. The occupants of the car was a young family on their way to school. They were late and going too fast when their car couldn’t take a sharp turn. What Rogers came upon horrified him.

The occupants weren’t wearing their seatbelts. You can imagine what the scene must have looked like. Horrifying indeed.

Long before responding to that scene, though, Rogers has led the effort to make sure drivers in Laurel wear their seatbelts. As you read on Page 1, he wrote an astounding 602 tickets in one year. That averages to not a whole lot less than one per day — if he worked every day of the year.

He will talk to anyone — and everyone — about using seatbelts, whether after having been pulled over or while waking the aisles of Walmart. The cause is that important to him.

We imagine that he will use the 602 from last year as a challenge, which should have every driver and passenger in Laurel taking notice — buckle up or plan to pay up! This is the officer who, legend has it, pulled over his own mother and issued her a ticket, so don’t expect to sweet-talk your way from Kenny Rogers.

The state winner for tickets written this year was a trooper in North Mississippi — with more than 500 more than Rogers. We know Kenny will have that officer and that number in his sights as well. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control: “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in the first three decades of American’s lives. In 2009 alone, crashes killed over 33,000 people and injured another 2.2 million—more than 70 percent of these were in passenger vehicles and trucks. More than half of the people killed in car crashes were not restrained at the time of the crash. Wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a crash.”

Among other statistics on seat belts from the CDC:

• Seat belts dramatically reduce risk of death and serious injury. Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45 percent, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50 percent.

• Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash. People not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. More than 3 out of 4 people who are ejected during a fatal crash die from their injuries.

• Seat belts save thousands of lives each year, and increasing use would save thousands more. Seat belts saved almost 13,000 lives in 2009. If all drivers and passengers had worn seat belts that year, almost 4,000 more people would be alive today.

• In one year alone, crash deaths and injuries to drivers and passengers cost $70 billion in medical and lost work costs.

So, make sure to buckle up, Laurel! Those who have come in contact with Rogers already know that well.

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