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Tennessee Highway Patrol, Georgia State Patrol Partner with Erlanger Heath System to Encourage Seat Belt Safety

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 | 05:37am

NASHVILLE---The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) and Georgia State Patrol (GSP) today joined representatives from Erlanger Health System’s Level 1 Trauma Center to urge motorists to wear seat belts to reduce trauma cases and fatal crashes across the region. This is the first time both state law enforcement agencies have partnered with the medical community to encourage seat belt safety.

“Our primary goal is to reduce the number of traffic fatalities in Tennessee, and more than half of our state’s roadway deaths are from unrestrained motorists,” THP Captain Jeff Mosley said.  “We hope our message today will positively affect driver behavior and increase voluntary seat belt compliance across the state.” 

Since 2012, 1,163 individuals have been injured after not wearing a seat belt in vehicular crashes across the 12-county Chattanooga District. There have been 86 unrestrained motorists injured in crashes so far in 2015, and 28 of those injuries occurred in Hamilton County. 

“The number of injuries secondary to motor vehicle crashes could be reduced significantly if motorists would just buckle up,” said Dr. Donald Barker, adult trauma surgeon and medical director of LIFE FORCE with Erlanger Health System. “It’s a very effective way to reduce injuries and save lives on our roadways.”

The Tennessee Highway Patrol also noted that 12 children who were either unrestrained or not properly restrained in a child restraint device (CRD) were also injured in the Chattanooga District from 2012 to 2015.

“From 2012 to 2014, 87 children from our region were admitted to the pediatric trauma unit for injuries received from not being restrained or improperly restrained in a vehicle,” said Dr. Michael Carr, a pediatric trauma surgeon with Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. “We all have a vested interest in the safety and welfare of our children. No child should have to enter the emergency room or pediatric trauma unit for improper restraint in vehicle crashes.”

In the Chattanooga District, 142 unrestrained vehicle occupants have been killed since 2012. Hamilton County suffered the highest number of unrestrained vehicular fatalities with 33 traffic deaths during that time period.   

“We are proud to partner with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Erlanger Health System with this important traffic safety message,” GSP Captain Grady Sanford said. “With safety education and traffic enforcement efforts, we hope to see an increase in seat belt usage in both Georgia and Tennessee and ultimately save lives.”     

The event also included remarks from crash survivors and a demonstration of the THP rollover crash simulator and a tour of Erlanger’s LIFE FORCE helicopter. Today’s event was one of several events throughout the year that Erlanger’s Trauma Program participates in to educate the community on the importance of wearing seat belts.  

The Erlanger Health System is a non-profit, academic health system affiliated with the University of Tennessee College of Medicine.  Erlanger provides the only tertiary hospitals and Level 1 Trauma Centers for adults and children across a 31,000 square-mile region of southeast Tennessee, north Georgia, north Alabama and western North Carolina, treating over 300,000 patients annually. The health system consists of five hospitals, including Children's Hospital at Erlanger, the region's only pediatric specialty hospital and six emergency centers. Erlanger is recognized by U.S. News and World Report as the top hospital in the Chattanooga region and is the tenth largest public healthcare system in the United States. Visit www.erlanger.org.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to serve, secure, and protect the people of Tennessee.

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