A mother from Massachusetts was driving her six children from Massachusetts to the West Coast for a family gathering when she lost control of her vehicleearly in the morning on August 2nd in Beaver Creek, Minnesota. Pamela Roper, a 43-year-old mother from Massachusetts, admitted to falling asleep at the wheel around 4 a.m. near Exit 5 on Interstate 90. Minnesota State Patrol established that the vehicle went off of the road, through a ditch, and hit an embankment.
Her 14-year-old teenage son, Daniel Davis, was pronounced deceased at the scene of the accident. He was not wearing his seatbelt. Roper and three of her other children were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Their ages are 11, 9, and 7. Two of her other children were treated at the scene of the accident, aged 19 and 4.
Minnesota State Patrol commented that the accident was “a sad reminder of the dangers on the road”. Minnesota State Patrol Captain Brian West confirmed that in addition to Roper feeling fatigued, not everyone, including the teenager, was wearing their seatbelt. He commented that wearing a seatbelt on the interstate is especially important: “If you are, you’re going to survive that crash…If you’re not, especially at highway speeds like 70 miles per hour, your chances of death or serious injury are significantly increased.” Despite the fact that this portion of the interstate does not have frequent traffic, many accidents occur in this rural area. “A majority of the crashes that occur in Minnesota that result in fatalities occur in rural Minnesota…So, even though we may not always have a lot of traffic, some people may think there’s no need for the belt because it appears to be safer roadways,” said West.
Roper has been released from the hospital but her three children remain in critical condition.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that seatbelts save over 13,000 lives per year. The NHTSA provides the following tips on the importance of seatbelt safety:
• Wearing your seatbelt is the best way to protect yourself in an accident • Airbags do not replace seatbelts • To buckle-up correctly, the lap belt and shoulder belt should be secure across the pelvis and rib cage • In order for a seatbelt to work correctly, it must fit correctly; belt extenders or new shoulder belts are available from car dealers and manufacturers.
• Everyone should wear a seatbelt despite age or condition. Pregnant women, obese, and eldery, can all effectively buckle-up safely.
The NHTSA also advises frequent or potentially fatigued drivers with the following:
• Do not start your journey tired.
• Do not continue to drive if you become tired. Pull over to a safe stop as soon as possible.
• For long drives, plan at least 15-minute breaks every two hours.
• Opening the window for fresh air or turning up the radio are only sufficient until you find a place to pull over.
If you have been involved in a car accident, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced car accident lawyer.
Fatigue, Seatbelts Factor In Fatal I-90 Crash , Keloland.com, August 2, 2011
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