A Quincy teenager was given the first “Saved by the Belt” award, after walking away from a motor vehicle crash in Hingham unharmed due to seatbelt use.
According to Hingham Police, Brendan F. Wright, who was 16 at the time of the crash, was involved in a three-vehicle accident on Whiting Street at 9:40 a.m. on June 21, 2011.
Wright was driving a 2008 Jeep, headed south on Whiting in the left lane of the road. Suddenly, a Nissan traveling north cut off a pick-up truck also headed north, causing the pick-up to swerve across the center line and into Wright’s lane.
The pick-up hit the driver’s side of the Jeep, causing the Jeep to spin.
According to a police investigation and witness reports, the car rotated counterclockwise across both northbound lanes and narrowly avoided a head on collision before the car jumping a curb, becoming airborne, and landed on several large rocks and against several small trees.
Although the Nissan drove away, several witnesses obtained the license plate of the vehicle and the driver was soon located. The woman was cited and later found responsible for the crash after a hearing at Hingham District Court.
Back at the scene, the car was in poor shape – the vehicle was severely damaged on the driver’s side as well as damaged on the front end and undercarriage. All air bags, including front and side curtain air bags, were deployed.
Although the car didn’t fare well, Wright, who was wearing a seat belt, walked away uninjured. He had had his license for a month.
According to Officer Jeffrey Kilory, a member of the Traffic Division who investigated the crash, Wright’s seat-belt use saved his life.
“The driver’s proper use of a seat belt, combined with air bag deployment, prevented the driver from receiving serious head injuries and prevented a probable ejection,” he said in a release.
The program was instituted in June 2011 to recognize drivers or passengers whose lives were saved or injuries reduced because of their seat belt use. According to Hingham Police, the award program is based on a model used in several other states, and will hopefully help reinforce the “live-saving importance” of always wearing a seat belt.
The officer investigating the crash must nominate awardees, and the accident must have occurred in Hingham. Additionally, the driver cannot have been cited for a vehicle violation or be responsible for the crash.
Not only does Wright meet these criteria, but he also fits into a key age bracket.
According to Sergeant Steven Dearth, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in Americans age 16-19. In addition, male high school students are also the least likely to wear seat belts.
The Center for Disease Control also sites that teenagers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than all other drivers.
“With this age group being such a risk, it’s a sense of pride that we are honoring ( then) 16-year-old Brendan Wright for setting the example,” Chief Michael Peraino said in a release. “As a new driver, he is a great role model for all drivers, especially high-school-age drivers.”
Despite the scary situation, Brendan and his parents even agreed that if his experience can be shared to encourage others to buckle up, it should be.
Dearth agreed that it’s instances like these than can provide a lesson for Hingham’s youth.
“We have to celebrate the victories when it comes to serious crashes, and this is a win,” Dearth said.