RALEIGH – UNC Pembroke senior Jena Wise has learned a lot during her four years at college, but it was a decision she made as a freshman - to buckle her seatbelt - that she counts as one of the smartest things she’s ever done.
For her actions, Wise is receiving the September “Saved by the Belt” Award from the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program, or NCGHSP. The award recognizes those whose lives were likely saved by their choice to wear their seat belts. NCGHSP shares these stories to raise awareness about the benefits of seat belt use.
Wise was driving down N.C. 73 near the town of Ellerbee in September of 2019 when she ran off the road, hit a tree and ended up in a ravine. Her injuries were serious enough that she was airlifted to a Charlotte-area hospital. She’s since made a full recovery but uses her experience as a cautionary tale to other young people.
“My injuries were nearly fatal,” Wise said recently. “Wearing a seatbelt saved my life. I can’t even begin to comprehend how much worse things would have been without it. It is crucial that you buckle up to protect yourself, your life, and your future.”
Wearing seatbelts saves lives. About half of occupants in fatal crashes are unbuckled. The number of unbuckled fatalities in North Carolina is highest among passenger vehicle occupants ages 20-29, which is why Wise’s message is especially important for other young people to hear.
“There are few things more tragic than a young life cut short when that loss could have been prevented by a simple action like buckling up,” said Mark Ezzell, NCGHSP director. “Wise’s decision saved her life, and by sharing her story, she’s likely saving the lives of other young people. We’re thrilled to present her with this month’s Saved by the Belt award for her smart actions.”
Do you know someone who was saved by a seat belt? Share your “Saved by the Belt” stories to raise awareness about the importance of seat belt usage, and follow us @NCGHSP on Facebook and @NC_GHSP on Twitter and Instagram. For more information, visit the Governor's Highway Safety Program website.