My Seat Belt Saved My Life

December 13, 2013

Originally published Aug. 1, 2011

PHWEEK interviewed Brodnax to hear first-hand how driving with your seat belt buckled made all the difference in her survival.  “Another car cut me off when I was changing lanes,” recalled Brodnax. “I swerved to avoid the car and lost control of my car, hitting the wall and causing my car to roll-over several times.” Janie Brodnax is the Chief Operations Officer for the Georgia Department of Public Health.  On her way to work recently, Brodnax was involved in serious accident.  She obeyed the law and buckled up on that day as she has for many years of driving.  That decision saved her life. Although her car was totaled, there were no fatalities. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those ages 5-34 in the U.S.  In 2009, emergency rooms were filled with more than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers who were injured in motor vehicle crashes.  The Georgia Department of Public Health’s Injury Prevention Program promotes the use of adult seat belt as the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in car crashes. Although bombarded with news coverage of major car accidents and heavy fines for not obeying the law, there are still millions of adults who do not wear their seat belts. It’s key to wear your seat belt on every trip – no matter the distance.

“When driving or riding in cars or SUVs equipped with seatbelts, I always wear mine," Broadnax said, remembering the details of the accident and how fast things changed.  “I have no doubt that I would not have survived had I not been wearing a seat belt."

Photos of the wrecked car make it hard to believe she walked away alive and with only bruises and no broken bones.  The black and blue marks of the seatbelt across her chest remind her that she was involved in a very serious accident that could have changed her life.  

Two guardian angels helped to pull Brodnax from her vehicle and locate her eyeglasses.  Because of them, she is working through the bruises and aches and still managing to meet deadlines and attend meetings within the agency.  She is thankful to be alive – no doubt.

Like most survivors of horrific accidents, there is always a lesson to pass on to others.  Brodnax is convinced that she made the right choice that day. She also notes that it is well worth the time and effort to buckle-up.  It’s more than a law; it’s your decision to drive with care and safety.

Brodnax’s story reminds us of what to do every time we drive or ride in an automobile.  There’s too much riding on our decision – so buckle-up. 

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Originally published Aug. 19, 2013

Only about one-third of teens in rural areas of southeast Georgia wear seat belts on the road, according to a new study published by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the University of Georgia (UGA). The authors say those numbers show a major gap in safety behaviors between rural teens and their urban peers.

When researchers observed teens driving in and out of the parking lots at 12 high schools in southeast Georgia counties, they found that just 38.6 percent of the drivers and passengers were buckled up.