Law Enforcement, Victims' Families Urging Seatbelt Safety

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - In just the last two week, at least three people have been killed in car accidents and they all had one thing in common. According to DPS, none of them were wearing a seatbelt.

This weekend, one local organization is targeting teens and their families in a safe driving campaign.

But victim's family members and law enforcement agencies are also reminding everyone to buckle up before you take the wheel.

The pain is still very fresh for Jessica Vasquez as she chokes up thinking about her sister, Kimberly.

"She was my best friend, we lived next door to each other, so it hurts," Jessica said.

She was killed in a head-on crash over Labor Day weekend off Loop 338 in Odessa.

According to the DPS crash report, Kimberly and the driver killed in the other car were not restrained.

However Jessica tells NewsWest 9, her family was told that her sister had markings of a seatbelt across her chest.

Although it may never be known for sure, Jessica is warning others to buckle up.

"If you're in an accident, of course you're gonna want to wear a seatbelt because you don't want your family to go through that," Jessica said. "You don't wanna get in a wreck and die because of a seatbelt. It's really easy."

This past weekend, two more women were killed in a different crash on Loop 338. DPS also reported everyone involved in that accident was not wearing a seatbelt.

Cpl. Sherrie Carruth with the Odessa Police Department said not only are seatbelts safe, they're mandatory.

"Whether they sit in the front seat or the back seat anymore, they're required to wear a seatbelt," Carruth said. "It's not to constrict you, it's not to tell you, it's to help you."

She said accidents can happen in seconds, leaving little time to prepare.

"You could be doing everything right, you could be driving the speed limit you could be watching where you're going but a lot of times it's the other person," Carruth said. "You can't control their actions."

And while there's no guarantee a seatbelt will save your life, both women agree it's better to be safe than sorry.

"There's nothing that's 100% but at the same time, if it was just that you needed to keep you alive, why not take that percentage?" Carruth said.

"I mean if you wanna be safe, wear a seatbelt," Jessica said. "Two seconds, click it, that's it. It's really easy. Simple."

If you and your teen are interested in attending the campaign, it's called "Celebrate My Drive."

It will be held Saturday from 3:00 - 6:00 at the Midland College Allison Fine Arts Center parking lot. It's hosted by the Permian Basin Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.