MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - At first look, it'll raise your eyebrows.
At first spin, it'll drop your jaw.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol's rollover simulator is quite a sight. Except the patrol doesn't call it a 'simulator.' The patrol calls it the rollover 'convincer.'
Because once you've seen it tumble with its weighted dummies inside, you'll be convinced of the deadly forces at work in a rollover crash.
"It simulates the centrifugal force acted upon the body in the event of a rollover," said THP Spokesperson Sgt. Chris Richardson. "In a rollover crash, three-quarters of the time where you are ejected, you will die."
Richardson showcases the rollover convincer at schools, businesses and fairs: anywhere to convince anyone about the importance of wearing seat belts.
Unfortunately, it's too late for the 10,355 unbuckled Americans who died in car crashes in 2013, the latest year for available data. All told, 21,132 people died in car crashes in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That means 49 percent of all passengers who were killed in 2013 weren't wearing their seat belts. NHTSA revealed 61 percent of those unrestrained were between the ages of 13 and 34. The agency's data also indicated seat belts saved 12,584 lives ages five and up in 2013.
WMC Action News 5 Traffic Tracker Janeen Gordon said the worst roadway in the metro Memphis area for rollover crashes is Interstate 240, both eastbound and westbound, near Airways Boulevard.
"I've seen 18-wheelers, I've seen trucks, I've seen vehicles, other vehicles, just kind of slide off the interstate there," Gordon said. "There's something about the ridges in the left-hand lanes, near the deep decline of the median."
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said unbuckled passengers increase the risk of injury or death to buckled passengers and drivers by 40 percent. In fact, during one of the rollover convincer spins we filmed, the unbuckled dummy flew like a projectile right on top of the buckled driver.
"It gets the point across," Richardson said.
Point taken. No second look needed.