RALEIGH, N.C. – Lillian Gupton got in her car, fastened her seatbelt and began the drive back to her house near Raleigh following a family dinner to celebrate her upcoming graduation from East Carolina University. The simple act of buckling up would prove to be one of the smartest decisions the college senior had ever made.

Minutes later, Gupton heard squealing tires and felt a sharp bump as another vehicle side-swiped her, sending her careening across the median into oncoming traffic. Gupton firmly believes that it was her seatbelt that prevented her from being seriously injured in the crash. 

“My seatbelt kept me safe. If I didn’t have it on, I’m sure I would have been hurt due to impact,” Gupton said. 

For her smart decision to buckle up, Gupton is being named as the recipient of the January “Saved by the Belt” Award by the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program. 

The Saved by the Belt initiative raises awareness about the importance of everyone buckling up by highlighting people who avoided serious injury or death in a motor vehicle crash by wearing their seatbelt.

The N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program encourages the driver and passengers to properly fasten their seatbelts when they’re in a vehicle. Nearly half of all drivers and passengers involved in fatal crashes were not wearing a seat belt.  Share your “Saved by the Belt,” stories to raise awareness, and follow us @NCGHSP on Facebook and @NC_GHSP on Twitter and Instagram. For more information, visit www.ncghsp.org.

For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.