Even though we’ve been told since childhood to wear a seat belt, many Americans don’t. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the teenagers that died in crashes in 2012, approximately 55% of them were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
You might think the police officer that gave you a ticket for not having your seat belt on has more important things to worry about, but the officer might have saved your life. AAA Exchange explains that buckling up is the most important safety measure you can take to protect yourself in a crash because it helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle. Seat belts also help defend you against aggressive, distracted, and impaired drivers.
So why doesn’t everybody wear a seat belt when they travel?
Some people don’t wear them because they’re misinformed. Contrary to popular belief, airbags don’t replace the need for seat belts as the two have completely different functions. A seat belt is designed to lock in place when a sudden force is put against it. Its job is to restrain and prevent a person from moving with the inertia of the car when the car is stopped or forced to change direction.
The airbag increases the length of impact between an occupant and the interior of the car. By doing so, the energy of the impact dispels and thus reduces the severity of the injuries to the occupant. The seat belt and the airbags work together to make sure that the occupant is held in the right position for the airbag to be most efficient.
Others don’t wear their seat belts because they are only going a couple of miles, but according to Oklahoma State University, 80% of traffic fatalities occur within 25 miles of home and under 40 miles per hour.
Even the safest drivers in the world should use seat belts; after all, you put your seat belt on to protect you from the other not-so-careful drivers that you share the roadways with. Personal injury attorneys Allen and Allen give the following example: a collision takes place at a low speed of 30 miles per hour. Even at such a low speed, an unbelted 160 pound person can strike another passenger, crash through a windshield, and/or slam into the vehicle’s interior with a 4,800 pound force.
Get in the habit of making sure every one of your passengers has their seat belt on before you start your vehicle. If you have teenagers that are newly permitted to drive, make sure one of the rules you give them is to always strap in.