A seat belt saved 17-year-old Brandi Cobb’s life and now she is begging other drivers to buckle up.
The Amherst native was involved in a head-on collision on Nov. 13 while traveling to class at Lorain County Community College. It left her with a broken ankle and shattered heel, and passengers with broken bones.
“It all happened so fast,” she told a crowd gathered May 17 at for the kick-off of this year’s Click It or Ticket campaign.
Cobb remembered the panic that set in during the seconds just before the other car slammed into hers: “There really wasn’t anything I could have done. If I had gone left, he still would’ve hit me — and if I went right, I still would’ve gotten into an accident. If I wasn’t there, he may have hit someone’s house.”
Passengers were initially trapped but managed to climb out through back seat windows.
“Today, we’re all good and healthy, but still recovering from those injuries,” Cobb said. “We all had our seat belts on and that saved our lives. Before my accident, I asked people in my car to please put their seat belt on. Now that’s turned to, ‘Please put your seat belt on because you could die.”’
The Lorain County Safe Community Coalition sponsored the kick-off, staging a crashed car in front of Ali’s Sunoco in Amherst to serve as a stark reminder of the danger in not buckling up. Gas pump toppers telling drivers to buckle up have also been placed at the station.
Through June 4, police across Ohio will place a greater emphasis on enforcing seat belt laws as part of the National Highway Traffic Association’s Click it or Ticket initiative.
Officers also are giving coupons for free burgers and apple slices to randomly-selected McDonald’s drive-through customers who are seen wearing seat belts.
Lorain County has a seat belt use rate of 78.6 percent, lower than the national average that reached a record high 90 percent in 2016.
A seat belt was not used in half of the county’s 34 deadly crashes in 2017. That hasn’t changed so far in 2018, which has seen six fatal crashes as of May 17, according to Lorain County Public Health.
“I know we’ve had four fatalities in Amherst over the past three years,” Amherst police Lt. Mark Cawthon said. “Out of those four, three were not wearing seat belts. Had they been belted, would they be here with us today? There’s a good possibility. There’s stats throughout the country that show wearing a belt makes a huge difference. I have two kids. One is now a 17-year-old driver. When they both get in the car, it’s automatic to put their belts on. It’s a learned behavior. It’s something we taught them growing up.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.