We’re all hoping a 14-year-old girl recovers fully from her injuries received in a crash on the Garden State Parkway this past weekend.

She and others were riding in a minivan when it hit a guard rail and crashed according to police reports. Officials say she was ejected from the vehicle and sustained serious injuries and was last reported as remaining in critical condition. The accident happened in Kenilworth, Union County.

The driver escaped injury but minor injuries were sustained by others in the minivan, authorities say. The accident remains under investigation.

In no way am I suggesting that the girl was not wearing a seatbelt. She may well have been. A seatbelt can fail. It happens. And I wish her nothing but the best either way.

But this accident in which someone was ejected made me think about the constant "Click It or Ticket" campaigns police conduct in New Jersey every year.

Now the overwhelming odds show that wearing a seatbelt makes you safer in a crash. Yet everyone has heard that rare story in which someone not belted in survived a crash that would have killed them had they worn their seatbelt.

Close up female hand of young woman with bracelet on it fasten seat belt in car

Decades ago my uncle was in one of these. He sometimes did and sometimes didn’t secure his seatbelt. This particular day he did not. Something happened where his car ended up rear-ending and going under the back of a tractor-trailer, shearing the top of his car right off.

Just before impact, he threw himself down towards the floor of the car, only able to do so because of not being buckled in. Crash investigators told him had he been wearing his seatbelt he would have been decapitated.

It’s a sobering thought and one he could never get out of his head for the rest of his life. He never wore a seatbelt again. And while I know he was statistically wrong to not do so, with that experience how could I fault him?

Is New Jersey’s Click It or Ticket annual blitz about safety or about money? I’ll let you decide that for yourself. But I can tell you New Jersey seatbelt compliance rate stands 94.5% as of 2019. I believe that’s not because of the threat of a minor $46 ticket. I believe that’s because most everyone goes with the statistical odds of being safer with it on.

Law enforcement says it won’t rest until New Jersey reaches 100% compliance. That’s a farce because they know it will never happen.

I would never drive or ride in a car without wearing a seatbelt. Not even in the backseat where compliance is much lower. You can be ejected from a vehicle from the backseat as well as the front. But I wear a seatbelt because of the laws of physics, not because of the laws of government. I will not fault anyone who refuses.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

You can now listen to Deminski & Doyle — On Demand! Hear New Jersey’s favorite afternoon radio show any day of the week. Download the Deminski & Doyle show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen right now.

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