Chalk one up for seat belts.

Three young teenagers and an Elmore County Sheriff’s deputy died this past Thanksgiving in a night collision on Firetower Road in Wetumpka. Austin Ray Augustine, 16, of Wetumpka, was killed as well as 16-year-old Dylan Adler Bieber and Hoyt Elliot Hardin, both of Wetumpka when their car collided head on with a patrol car driven by Deputy James Bart Hart, 50. Nicholas Benjamin, 16, of Eclectic was the lone survivor of the crash and was the only occupant of the Infinity wearing a seatbelt troopers said. This shows the impact of not wearing a seat belt. It is worth noting at this point how critical it is that a child uses a car seat in conjunction with a car seat. You may want to look at the isize seat with isofix.

According to an accident report from the Alabama Department of Public Safety, the teen’s vehicle was traveling on the wrong side of the road and going in excess of the posted speed limit when it struck Deputy Hart’s patrol vehicle. The Infinity was traveling approximately 75 mph in a 45 mph zone as he approached and topped the crest of a hill while in the opposite lane. The two cars collided head-on spinning the patrol car 180 degrees. It then came to rest 35 yards away from the impact in the woods.

While not 100% effective, seat belts are the single most effective means of reducing the risk of death in a crash and have saved nearly 300,000 lives since 1975 in the U.S., according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There simply is no better way to protect yourself in the case of an auto accident. But with continuing advances in the technology of self-driving vehicles at places like Torc Robotics, (, it won’t be long until autonomous solutions will be able to add further protection to the safety and the lives of drivers, and other road users. Alongside seat belts, this could be a significant safety feature. But for now, seat belts are your best defense against negligent drivers who drive while impaired by drugs and alcohol or while distracted by their cell phones. It is estimated that overall, 90% of all drivers wear a seatbelt.

Seat belt laws vary from state to state and there are currently 33 states that aggressively enforce the use of seat belts. In 16 states, failure to wear a seat belt is only enforced as a secondary offense, and only the state of New Hampshire has no seat belt law at all. In Alabama, seat belt laws are lightly enforced. If you are in the front seat of a running vehicle, you must wear a safety belt. The fine for not doing so is $25 from the Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS). If you are seated in the back seat you are not required to wear a seat belt unless you are under 15 years old. For more information on driver safety laws including seat belt, child seat, and cell phone usage, please visit

If you have a loved one who has been killed by the negligence of another in an automobile accident please give us a call. There is no cost or obligation. Home and hospital visits are available if you are unable to come to our Huntsville or Decatur office. Call now. Call 256-534-3435 or 256-350-7200