Perry Township, PA – A Punxsutawney family escaped a crash with a deer with only one minor injury.

46-year-old Melissa Kendrick of Punxsutawney had been driving along Route 36 near Laughbaum Drive on Tuesday afternoon when she struck a deer.

Kendrick and her two passengers, a 10-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy, were all wearing their seat belts. The child in the front seat had a minor seat belt burn, but other than that there were no injuries.

Wearing a seat belt can greatly improve your chances of walking away from a crash unharmed.

No matter how good of a driver you might think you are, you can’t predict what other drivers or animals along the roadway will do. Your seat belt is your best defense for you and your family.


Pennsylvania’s primary seat belt law requires drivers and passengers under 18 years old to buckle up, and children under the age of 4 must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat. Kids ages 4 to 8 must be in an appropriate booster seat.

A new law that went into effect in August 2016 requires a child under 2 years old to be securely fastened in a rear-facing safety seat, which is to be used until the child outgrows the maximum weight and limits designed by the manufacturer.

In addition, children ages 8 to 18 must be wearing a seat belt when riding anywhere in the vehicle.

Drivers and front-seat passenger 18 years and older are required to buckle up. If you are stopped for a traffic violation and are not wearing your seat belt or anyone else is not buckled up as required by law, you can receive a second ticket and a second fine.

It’s not just about following the law… It’s about staying safe. Statistics show that just wearing your seat belt can increase your chances of surviving a serious crash by about 60 percent.

Learn more about seat belt statistics and the laws at the PennDOT seat belt page.

Excuses people use to not wear a seat belt:

** “I’m not driving very far.” – Three out of four crashes happen within 25 miles from home.

** “I’m riding in the back seat.” – You can still be thrown from the vehicle from the back seat. You also pose a risk to others in the car because your body will collide with other people in the car.

** “I’m driving at night. The police can’t tell if I’m wearing a seat belt.” – Police throughout the state are increasing their nighttime enforcement. There are also more high-risk drivers on the road at night (drowsy, drunk, or impaired drivers), which makes a crash more likely.

** “I’m pregnant and the seat belt is too tight.” – Wearing your seat belt is the best defense in a crash for both you and your baby. Wear your lap belt low and snug over your hips and pelvis, below your belly.

** “I don’t want to be trapped by a seat belt if my car catches fire or goes underwater.” – Less than one-half of one percent of all injury crashes involve fire or submersion. National research shows that you are 25 times more likely to be killed if you are ejected from the vehicle.

Buckle up!

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