Kelly Thomas Boyers, the mother of a 22-year-old University student killed in a car accident last year, is asking community members to step out and promote a safer Nevada.
A March 15 campus fund-raiser and 1.5-mile walk, which a few hundred students and community members attended, raised safety awareness and celebrated Adam Thomas’ life. Proceeds from the benefit went to the University’s Adam Thomas Legislative Intern Scholarship.
Due to rain, both events were moved inside the Joe Crowley Student Union. Participants came dressed in warm gear, but shed layers of clothing, tried on Click it or Ticket T-shirts, and marched around the Student Union ballroom.
The Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Pi Beta Phi sorority, the Adam Thomas Foundation, Renown Medical Center and Port of Subs also provided support. Nevada’s First Lady Dawn Gibbons spoke to attendees, Port of Subs donated sandwiches and Renown provided some of the goodie bags for walkers.
“The purpose of this event is to remind people to buckle up every time they drive somewhere, no matter the distance,” Thomas Boyers said. “It’s to remind everyone to buckle up in the car, including the little brother or sister in the backseat.”
According to the Nevada Department of Transportation and state Department of Public Safety, 85 percent of the nation’s automobile accidents happen within five miles of a driver’s home. It was estimated that in 2005, 55 percent of passenger-vehicle occupants killed in accidents were not wearing seat belts. Six out of 10 children who died in 2004 were not wearing their seat belts. The cost of injuries that result from non-use of seat belts has been estimated at $26 billion annually.
“I don’t think people realize how expensive it is for medical-care costs,” Thomas Boyers said. “Most injuries caused by car accidents haven’t been tracked, but the long-run costs we inevitably pay for.”
She described car accidents as the cancer of this generation. The incidents are taking lives, and statistics show fatalities can be dramatically reduced by simply putting on a seat belt.
“My son’s heart was here and his friends are here, so it is important for us to be here,” Thomas Boyers stated. “If we get 50 people and they tell some more people, it will make a big impact.”
According to the Department of Public Safety’s Traci Pearl, people are more afraid of getting a ticket than dying or being injured in an accident. Nevada law allows officers to issue a seat belt citation only after stopping the vehicle for another traffic infraction. Statistics indicate drivers who get a ticket for not buckling up are more likely to wear seat belts the next time they are in a car, even when driving short distances.
“When you don’t drive long distances, you don’t think or realize how important it is to put on a seat belt,” Thomas Boyers said. “I hope this will change.”