Many teens don't wear seat belts - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Many teens don't wear seat belts

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More teens die in car crashes than from any other cause, yet many teenagers are not protecting themselves with a seat belt.

Alexa Johnson, 19, was killed instantly when she lost control of her truck last year. She wasn't wearing her seat belt - a fact that still haunts her father.

"We knew that something horrific had happened, but you couldn't imagine that it was your own child," Tad Johnson said.

About 2,500 teenagers die each year in car accidents - drivers and passengers combined. In nearly half of those cases, the teens were not wearing seat belts, according to Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide.

Safe Kids surveyed 1,000 teenagers about their seat belt usage. A quarter said they don't buckle up every time for a variety of reasons. Some said they simply forgot. Others said they didn't feel they needed to because they weren't going far.

"They may decide that it's just not that important to buckle up, or, 'I don't want my clothes to wrinkle,' or maybe there are more kids in the car than there are seat belts that are available," added Carr.

For whatever reason, Alexa chose to sit on top of her fastened seat belt, tricking the truck's safety system that would have triggered a beep that activated anytime the driver's belt was not buckled. Her family not outfits seat belts with pieces of fabric to remind others to use them the right way.

"When you feel that belt across your shoulder and you feel that belt across your waist, think of it as a hug from Alexa," Johnson said.

Their hope is that these "hugs" from Alexa will help serve as a reminder to stay safe.

The survey also suggested that many parents do not set good examples of safe driving. Kids who do not buckle up often have moms or dads who do not buckle up. More than a quarter of teens said they'd witnessed a parent texting while driving.

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