At this time last year, Hannah Ruskey was in a car accident that changed her life.
She was driving to a friend’s house with the windows open on a nice spring day when a receipt in the car got caught in the wind and flew into her face. She lost control and hit something and when she looked back to see that it was a mailbox, her car started heading for a ditch. She overcorrected and the car flipped several times.
“When my car finally stopped rolling, I saw my left leg hanging out the window and looked down to see my seat belt was what kept me in the car,” said Ruskey, now 18 of Napoleon. “I’d hate to see what would have happened if I wasn’t wearing it.”
The accident resulted in a broken spine that required surgery and a year of rehabilitation at The University of Toledo Medical Center. She didn’t take her first steps with braces until six months after the accident.
Now Ruskey wants to make sure others always put on their seatbelts so they are able to survive an accident. She is sharing her story at the local kickoff to the 2014 Click It or Ticket national campaign Friday, May 16, at 11 a.m. outside Mulford Library near the main entrance to UTMC.
The Lucas County Traffic Safety Program, along with law enforcement agencies of the Lucas County Operating Vehicle Intoxicated Task Force, are launching the local program that begins May 19 and continues through June 1 to increase seat belt use and reduce highway fatalities and injuries.
“Motorists are 75 percent less likely to be killed in a rollover crash if they are buckled up,” said Gwen Neundorfer, coordinator of the county traffic safety program. “The worst possible scenario is to be thrown from your vehicle because you weren’t wearing your seat belt. Wearing your seat belt is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.”
In 2012, seat belts saved more than 12,000 lives nationwide. Current seat belt use in Lucas County is 81.5 percent.
“Local motorists should be prepared for stepped up Click It or Ticket activities that will take place around the clock,” said Lucas County Sheriff’s Det. Mark Woodruff and coordinator of the Lucas County OVI Task Force. “If law enforcement finds you on the road unbuckled anytime or anywhere, you can expect a ticket — not a warning. No excuses and no exceptions.”
Ruskey will receive the Saved by the Seat Belt Award at the event Friday.