Even low-speed accidents a danger

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

BOONEVILLE – The jolt of a 5-mph impact when you’re the passenger in a motor vehicle comes as a surprise to most people.
Employees at United Parcel Service in Booneville took time to experience that impact Tuesday morning in a seat belt simulator called the Convincer.
“I didn’t expect the impact to be as hard at 5 mph,” part-time supervisor Tamekia Bell of Baldwyn said after exiting. “Going 5 miles an hour you can have an accident just like going 50 or 55 miles an hour.”
Bell expressed the message the Convincer is intended to convey, said Safety Program Coordinator Christy Milbourne of the state Department of Transportation.
She and Danny Tillman of MDOT brought the demonstration equipment to Booneville as one of the safety education tools they use to reinforce safety messages throughout the state.
“Even though it’s a 5-mph crash, at that speed you can easily hit the dash, the steering wheel or windshield and deploy the airbag,” Milbourne said. “Five miles per hour is faster than you think it is.”
The demonstration was arranged as part of UPS’ Safety Belt Awareness Week, said supervisor Heather Mitchell of Rienzi. All UPS drivers are required to use their seat belts.
“When wheels are turning, seat belts are on, and our drivers are really good about that,” Mitchell said. “It’s something we don’t have to get on them about.”
The Convincer simulates a low-impact crash and the benefits of seat belts and airbags. The participant is restrained with a seat belt and sits in a carriage at the top of a slide. The slide is released, allowing gravity to pull the carriage forward, eventually reaching at least 5 mph before colliding with bumpers at the front of the system.
Mississippi law requires that seat belts be used by the driver, front-seat passengers and children from 4 to 7 years old no matter where they sit.
The message was particularly relevant to Mitchell.
“In 1987, my sister had a wreck and was not wearing a seat belt,” she said. “She was thrown into the back seat and spent a year in the hospital in Memphis and had to learn to walk, talk and do everything again, so I know through firsthand experience what not wearing a seat belt can do.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@journalinc.com.