In August 2007, Rozalind and Tom Schlatter of Washougal, Washington, were on a family vacation with their four kids when their SUV rolled over. The only person in the vehicle not wearing a seat belt was 12-year-old Calvin Schlatter — and he was the only passenger who was killed.
"I think that with boys in particular, they get a little restless," Rozalind Schlatter said. "We had a hard time keeping him buckled."
"There's always the regrets that if we would have done this, if we would have done that, maybe this wouldn't have happened," her husband Tom said.
In Pennsylvania, 56.4 percent of total traffic collision deaths in 2012 involved passengers or drivers who weren't wearing seat belts. According to the Department of Transportation, if you don't buckle your seat belt, you are 55 percent more likely to be critically injured in a crash. If you're thrown from a car, you have a 79 percent chance of dying.
And the danger is real even at slow speeds. Experts who viewed a government crash test video say that a child properly buckled in would probably survive a car slamming into a wall at 30 miles per hour, but that a child hurled into the windshield because they weren't strapped in would suffer life-threatening injuries.
Already this school year there have been tragic headlines across the country about parents ignoring the law and children not wearing seat belts being ejected from cars. Now officials are cracking down.
In Broward County, Florida, the Rossen Reports team went along with officials of the Broward Sheriff's Office's Department of Fire Rescue as they performed seat-belt spot checks outside an elementary school. Half of the vehicles checked had kids who weren't buckled in.
Lots of parents who were stopped tried to explain themselves. "I told them to buckle in as we were leaving school like I always do, and I don't know," said one woman.
"You're driving 15 miles an hour, you're thinking it's a safe speed," a man said. Most parents said they just forgot.
Now new technology may eliminate that excuse. Congress has passed legislation that would require seat belt reminders — that dinging sound when someone in the front seat of a car isn't buckled up — in the back seat as well.
The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration has yet to propose rules on rear seat belt reminders, and is is still unclear when automakers would be required to install them. Experts say it could be a long process, but one that will save lives. To see what the seat belt laws are in your state, consult this guide from the Governors Highway Safety Association.