Buckling your seat belt only takes a second but it instantly cuts your risk of fatal injury in half. While mandatory seat belt laws are in effect in 49 states, more than 10% of people don’t buckle up.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows there were 10,428 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States in 2016. If all passenger vehicle occupants 5 and older involved in fatal crashes had worn their seat belts, an additional 2,456 lives could have been saved.
Seat belts provide five-way protection:
- Keeps occupants of the vehicle inside
- People thrown from a vehicle are four times more likely to be killed than those who remain inside
- Helps the body slow down
- A collision causes a drastic change in speed which leads to injury, wearing a seat belt extends the time it takes for you to slow down in a crash which reduces injury.
- Spreads out force from the collision
- Lap and shoulder belts spread the force of the crash over a wide area of the body, putting less stress on any one area.
- Protects your brain and spinal cord
- A shoulder strap keeps your head away from the dashboard, steering wheel, and other hard interior parts that could cause head injury.
- Restrains the strongest parts of the body
- Seat belts are designed to contact your body at its strongest points, for an adult this is your hip and shoulders.
Children require further safety measures than just wearing a seat belt.
As your child grows their seat should change, beginning with a rear-facing car seat and moving toward a booster seat. Follow these guidelines from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine what seat your child needs.
People cite many reasons for their lax attitude towards wearing a seat belt, including riding in the back seat, having a big truck or driving on rural roads. But the fact is, none of these conditions are any safer than driving on an interstate in a compact car.
With millions of motor vehicle accidents happening every day wearing your seatbelt should be a simple safety precaution taken every time you’re in a vehicle.