SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – While snow tires and winter wipers are always a good idea for drivers this time of year, their best defense against icy roads is still a simple seatbelt. Thursday, a group of Orem teenagers is sharing their story of survival and explaining why they are living proof that buckling up works.
It was Homecoming night at Orem High School. Dressed in their best and ready to hit the dance floor, the teens finished their dinner near Sundance and started down the canyon.
“I just remember seeing the car start to drift over,” Brooklyn Hale recalled.
“One of the tires went off the road,” remembered Kaylee Dial, another person in the vehicle.
“Then everything went black,” Hale said.
The group’s black Ford pickup rolled several times down a ravine and into the Provo river — something responders say easily could have killed them.
“I remember hearing just shouting — trying to make sure everyone was alive,” Dial said.
All six of them did survive, they say, thanks to their seat belts.
“Even though we were rolling a lot, I just felt completely secured in my seat,” Dial recalled.
Today, the teenagers say they are living proof that buckling up works and are encouraging not only their peers but all drivers to make it a habit.
“Thanks for setting the example,” Utah Highway Patrol Col. Michael Rapich told the group.
Public safety officials say about 50 percent of fatalities on Utah roads could be prevented with seat belts, and many of those deaths happen right around Thanksgiving time each year, as people are heading home for the holidays and sadly never make it.
“We need to focus on what’s important, and that’s arriving home alive… and spending time with our loved ones this holiday season,” said John Gleason, Public Information Officer for the Utah Dept. of Transportation.
That is why starting this weekend, UHP is bringing out about 275 extra troopers. They say, ‘click it or ticket,’ because as these teens can attest, a simple simple three-second action can change your life forever.
“Just can’t imagine what would’ve happened if I wasn’t wearing my seat belt,” Deyoung Park commented.
For the most part, Utahns are pretty good about buckling up. Data shows about 88 percent of people in the Beehive State consistently use seat belts, though females tend to use them more often than males.