Life-saving belts

By Ginger Park
     On a rainy November afternoon my husband, John, and I were driving from Topeka to Kansas City on the Kansas Turnpike. We were driving in the center lane near Lawrence when the car hydroplaned and began to spin. Luckily the cars on both sides of us had just passed us. At one point we were facing the wrong direction, I could see all the headlights heading our direction and I thought I’d met my end.
     However, we continued to spin off the right side of the road without hitting any other cars. Our car stopped spinning and was facing the correct direction when we slid down a 30-40 foot embankment, landed at the bottom and the car tipped onto the passenger side.
     John, held by his seat belt, was hanging sideways in the driver’s seat and I was on my side in the passenger seat with my seat belt on. After taking a minute to assess that we were both unhurt, John rolled down his window and asked me to unbuckle his seat belt while he held on to the steering wheel and the edge of the window so he could climb out the driver’s window. I then unbuckled and stood on the inside of the passenger door, while he pulled me out the driver’s window.
     Our adrenaline was pumping. We were cold, wet and frazzled, but we weren’t hurt. If we hadn’t been wearing our seat belts, we would have been thrown around the car in the spin and the slide downhill, and John would have crushed me when we landed. I am thankful we walked away without any injuries.
     This incident reinforced our habit of always wearing our seat belts when we get in a car and has made us much more cautious drivers in the rain.

Ginger Park is the Communications Manager in the Bureau of Health Promotion for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment


  1. Steve Swartz9/18/2013

    Thanks for sharing your story, Ginger. The seat belt message can't be repeated enough. It seems like a no-brainer, but there are still plenty of people who don't survive crashes because they were tossed around inside a vehicle or, worse, ejected. If we don't buckle up for ourselves, we should do it for all the people who are counting us to make it home safely every day.

  2. Ginger, how scary but what a blessing you are smart to wear your seat belt. Driving on wet roads DOES create extra risk. You didn't mention if you had your cruise control on, but it is never a good idea to have it on when the road surface is wet or icy. Thanks for sharing your story so the rest of us are reminded to always buckle up.

  3. Anonymous9/18/2013

    Thanks for sharing two very important safe driving messages - 1) always buckle up when you get into a vehicle and 2) driving on wet pavement can be dangerous thus always slow down anticipating the possibility of hydroplaning. Water on the pavement from melted snow or rain should indicated the need to reduce speed. Glad you are both safe and had your seat belts fastened.

  4. I once had a similar experience and my passenger and I were quite shaken. We too had buckled our seatbelts and felt very fortunate that we had -- and that no other cars struck ours.

    The other day I had another very scary incident -- I left my driveway and had forgotten to buckle up. A few blocks from my house I realized it and felt lucky that I had caught my mistake.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It reinforces that we never know when an incident might happen that alters our life. Buckle up -- every time!