A father who lost his son urges people to wear seat belts

Robert E. Lee High School retired his son Rod’s jersey after the 17-year-old died in a car crash.

  • The father of a star high school basketball player who died in a car crash has a message for drivers and passengers—buckle up no matter where you sit in a car, front or back.
  • Seventeen-year-old Rod Scott from Montgomery, Ala., died in a single car accident last year. He was sitting in the back seat and wasn’t wearing a seat belt.
  • A recent survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that many rear-seat passengers think the back seat is safer than the front seat—so they don’t buckle up.
  • The back seat gives them a false sense of security—and that’s a big mistake.
  • That’s because rear seat passengers are three times more likely to die in a crash if they don’t wear seat belts.
  • Robert E. Lee High School Basketball star Rod Scott decided not to buckle up in the back seat. It’s a tragedy that probably could have been prevented.

Assistant coach Rodney Scott helps lead basketball practice at Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery. The school retired his son Rod’s jersey after the 17-year-old died in a car crash. Scott misses his son so much that it hurts.

“You can’t put a time on how much because he meant so much to us, Scott said sobbing. “But, I just try to go on.”

Rod Scott earned a basketball scholarship to Jacksonville State University. The day he died, he decided not to buckle up in the back seat of a car—an unusual decision that probably cost him his life.

“You follow a routine, you go out of a routine,” Scott told the ABC 33/40 News iTeam. “That’s when things happen.”

While Rod Scott died in a single-car accident, this video from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows what happens to an unbuckled rear-seat passenger in a 35-mile-an-hour frontal crash.

“That unrestrained rear-seat passenger becomes a projectile at the same speed that the car is traveling,” said IIHS Senior Research Engineer Jessica Jermakian. “So, as the speed increases, the risk of serious injury and death is greater.”

A failed attempt to require rear-seat passengers to buckle up

Alabama is one of 21 states that doesn’t require rear-seat passengers to wear seat belts unless they’re younger.

Earlier this year, a bill named after Rod Scott—requiring everyone in a car to wear a seat belt — never made it out of the Alabama legislature.

Rodney Scott hopes the bill will be reintroduced and become law. Studies show more people would buckle up if a law required it.

“If I had a chance to do everything over again, I would have made sure he used his seat belt,” Scott said. “But, I don’t. So, I can tell other people.”

Back seat warnings

If you’re in the front seat of your car, you’ll hear an alarm go off if you don’t buckle up.

Consumer groups have filed lawsuits to try to push the federal government to require audible reminders in cars if you don’t buckle up in the back seat.

Most consumers say that reminder would make a difference.

The feature is available in a few car models.

But don’t wait on car manufacturers or the government to make changes.

It’s best to buckle up no matter where you sit—it’s proven to save lives.

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