FORT MYERS, Fla. - Something you can do in five seconds could save your life or your family's. The passengers in the back seat could be one of the biggest threats to you when you're driving.
Almost 90 percent of drivers in Florida buckle up, but if you're not as diligent with the people in the seat right behind you, the results could be deadly. We found a Public Service Announcement from the United Kingdom that graphically demonstrated just how dangerous an unbuckled passenger can be.
A woman's voice starts off the safety announcement, "Like most victims, Julie knew her killer."
The PSA, titled, "Julie" has been running in the UK for more than a decade and it's one of the most gruesome you'll ever see. The mother driving looks in her rear view mirror and is concerned about a white van traveling a little too fast behind her. With her eyes off the road, she slams into a parked car.
"It was her son (sound of crash). He was sitting behind her without her seat belt," the announcer finishes as the viewer sees the son, unbuckled, slamming into his mother's head, instantly killing her.
The ad was so popular, that other countries aired versions of it.
The safety campaign, and others like it, changed the way people overseas think about seat belts; how they don't just save your life, but also your loved ones.
It's an idea that many in the safety industry have understood for years. Including Fort Myers police officer, and U.S. Marine veteran Jason Sandt.
Working in the traffic unit since 2009, he's on the lookout everyday for, among other things, unbuckled drivers and passengers.
"Just last week, during morning rush hour there were actually a couple kids hanging out the front passenger window," Officer Sandt recalled.
He says the tickets he writes, is about saving lives.
"I don't even think words can describe what I'm feeling when I see that kind of stuff [unbuckled kids in the back]. Basically, I just want to ask them if they're crazy, why they're doing that kind of stuff," said Sandt. "One wrong turn and the kid's outside of the car and gets run over by whatever is behind them."
During a two-day ride-along with Officer Sandt, we saw car after car with unbuckled backseat passengers and the majority were kids.
Including one stop with two kids in the back, unbuckled. When we asked the driver why, she explained how she just picked up the kids, her niece and nephew and because she was driving, she didn't see them sitting there unbuckled.
Time and time again we found drivers with unrestrained children in the back.
One woman was driving with an infant in a car seat that wasn't hooked up to a seat belt and a five year old, also unbuckled. After writing a citation and offering his assistance in making sure the baby is properly secure, Officer Sandt gave the adults in the car one more warning.
"Before you go back on the road I want that baby in there nice and tight," he said.
Properly securing babies and children in a seat belt is a big priority for law enforcement. During a traffic safety operation in Fort Myers dozens of unbuckled drivers, with unbuckled passengers, were pulled over.
Like one woman with a child not properly buckled into his safety seat. Yet when we confronted her, she felt like she did nothing wrong.
But the reality is a ticket is the least of their concerns. That's because just like other objects not secured in the car, an unbuckled person becomes another projectile in a crash.
Lee Memorial trauma surgeon, Doctor Robert O'Connor confirms unbuckled passengers, like the ones in the graphic videos, can cause life-threatening injuries.
"A typical pattern of injury we see is the back seat passenger behind either the driver or passenger on a front-end impact, coming through to the front of the car and strike the head of the passengers in the front," he explained. "And they can suffer severe neck injuries, even fractures-- paraplegic and quadriplegia."
While looking at the video of the dramatized crash in the PSA, Dr. O'Connor told us, "it's very violent and this is not real life. And so the real life things are much more dramatic than this."
He also told us that there's something simple everyone can do, starting as kids.
"It all boils down to the basic thing we all did 20 to 30 years ago; just simply putting your seat belt on is the starting point to improving your outcome in an accident," said Dr. O'Connor.
In the end, getting everyone to buckle up before you start the car, will avoid having to pay the ultimate price.
Florida law requires everyone under 18 to be buckled up, and those riding in the front. If your passengers are under 18, then you as the driver are legally responsible for getting them to wear their seat belt.