1 person seriously injured after being ejected in rollover near Whitewood
WHITEWOOD, S.D. — Authorities responded to a one-vehicle rollover crash near Whitewood on Friday evening.
The accident happened when a Chevy Tahoe was driving eastbound on South Dakota 34 and the cap of one of its tires peeled away.
This caused the driver to lose control, enter a ditch and roll. The driver was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle.
The driver sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries and was transported to Sturgis Regional Hospital.
Seat belts are the single most effective way to protect yourself in an accident, and they prevent the occupants of a vehicle from being fully ejected — which is almost always deadly. There have been multiple fatal accidents in South Dakota involving people who were not wearing seat belts in the last week and a half alone.
One involved a 17-year-old boy who was ejected from his vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. Another was an 83-year-old woman who was also thrown from her vehicle and passed away. The third, and most recent, happened on Saturday south of Watertown when an 82-year-old man, who was not wearing a seat belt, was partially ejected from the vehicle he was in. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 47 percent of the people killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2017 were not wearing seat belts. Seat belts saved the lives of an estimated 14,955 people that year.
The South Dakota Highway Patrol recently recognized a local family that was saved in a serious accident by wearing seat belts with the Saved by the Belt Award.
The occupants of the vehicle were traveling on SD 79 north of Hermosa during inclement weather. They were driving cautiously due to poor road conditions when a second vehicle driving quickly came up behind them and ran into them.
Their vehicle was pushed off the road and suffered extensive damage, but none of the occupants were injured. During the investigation, the South Dakota Highway Patrol determined this was directly a result of them wearing seat belts.
They were presented with the award in May.
Seat belts should always be worn properly, with both the shoulder and the waist straps secured. It’s illegal to drive in South Dakota with the shoulder strap behind the back or under the arm, and doing so can result in serious injury or worse. Additionally, you should make sure your shoulder belt is fastened across the rib cage and away from the neck, and that the waist belt rests across your hips and not your stomach.
It’s also important to understand that air bags are designed to work with seat belts — not to replace them. Without the seat belt, you can be thrown rapidly against an opening air bag, which can result in serious injury, and even be deadly.
In the end, buckling up can reduce your risk of being killed in an accident by 45 percent if you’re in a passenger car, and by 60 percent if you’re riding in a pickup truck. This is even during short trips — in fact, according to the Department of Transportation, most accidents happen within 25 miles of the home.