Chances are you’ve seen countless commercials and heard a number of warnings about the importance of wearing a seat belt. Despite the concerted efforts of federal agencies, law enforcement, and even local news stations, many people still refuse (or forget) to wear their seat belts. Below, we discuss ten seat belt safety facts, as well as some other important safety tips
Seat Belt Safety Facts
1. 90.7% Seat Belt Use Rate
As noted above, various government and private organizations all over the country promote seat belt safety. While these efforts have not brought about 100% compliance, they do appear to be quite effective. In 2019, the reported seat belt use rate was a staggering 90.7%. (FYI, in 1983, it was only 14%.)
2. 14,995 Lives Saved by Seat Belts
In 2017 alone, seat belts saved nearly 15,000 lives. Of course, this number would have been even higher if more vehicle occupants used their seat belts. Seat belts save lives!
3. 36,096 Fatalities in 2019
In 2019, a staggering 36,096 people were killed in traffic crashes on U.S. roadways. Wearing a seat belt is one of the most effective ways to protect your life during a crash. Even though the usage rate was 90.7%, that year also saw traffic fatalities in the tens of thousands.
4. 47% of 2019 Fatalities Were Not Wearing Seat Belts
Of the over 36,000 deaths mentioned above, 47% were passengers who failed to wear their seat belts. If these occupants utilized their seat belts, the number of traffic fatalities for the year would be nearly cut in half.
5. 55% of 2019 Nighttime Fatalities Were Unrestrained
As you may have guessed, nighttime crashes can be especially deadly. It’s more risky to drive at night for many reasons, including low visibility, more drowsy or fatigued drivers and drivers who have been drinking, construction activity, etc. And, once again, the danger involved in these crashes is heightened when drivers and passengers don’t wear their seat belts. In fact, over half of nighttime fatalities involved unrestrained occupants in 2019.
6. Seat Belts Reduce Risk of Fatal Injury
The proper use of a seat belt can substantially reduce your risk of sustaining fatal injuries during a car collision. If you buckle up while riding in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45%. If you follow the same safety protocol while riding in a light truck, the risk of fatal injury is reduced by 60%.
7. Seat Belts Reduce Risk of Critical Injury
Seat belts reduce the risk of all injuries, including critical ones. Front seat passengers who buckle up while riding in a passenger car reduce their risk of critical injury by 50%. The risk of critical injury to light truck passengers who are buckled up is reduced by a staggering 65%. If you want to protect yourself in the event of a crash, buckling up is the best solution.
8. Seat Belts Reduce Risk of Ejection
When it comes to vehicle accidents, few things are more dangerous than being ejected from a car. When a person is flung out of their vehicle, the related injuries are often fatal. Just over 75% of passengers who are ejected during a crash die from their injuries.
If you do not wear your seat belt, you are 30 times more likely to be flung from your vehicle. Wearing a seat belt is simple and will most likely save your life.
9. 2,549 Lives Could Have Been Saved in 2017
In 2017, 2,549 additional lives could have been saved if passengers were wearing seat belts at the time of their accidents. Every year, thousands of people suffer critical or even fatal injuries that could have been avoided by simply buckling up.
10. Air Bags Work with Seat Belts
Modern airbags have come a long way since their invention. With that said, they were never intended to be a replacement for seat belts. Air bags are meant to work in conjunction with seat belts to provide more injury protection. No matter how advanced your vehicle is, you should always wear your seat belt.
Seat Belt Safety Tips
Now that we’ve gone over some important seat belt safety facts, let’s take a closer look at how you can improve your seat belt safety practices.
As mentioned above, seat belts are the most effective way to protect yourself during a crash. They are designed to work with your airbags and reduce your risk of injury. However, if not worn properly, seat belts may be rendered less effective or ineffective altogether.
Make Sure It Fits
When you buckle up, ensure that your belt fits properly. Modern lap and shoulder seat belts are extremely effective. However, they still need to be worn properly.
Your lap belt should be across your hips and the shoulder strap should rest on your ribcage/chest. The lap belt should never be across your stomach. Likewise, the shoulder belt should not be placed directly against your neck.
If necessary, equip your vehicle with a seat belt extender to improve the fit of your seat belt. When shopping for a new car, make sure it has an adjustable belt that fits you properly. If buying a new vehicle is not an option, you can retrofit outdated lap belts with help from your manufacturer.
Expecting Mothers, Buckle Up!
Contrary to popular belief, even pregnant women should wear seat belts. Virtually every physician agrees with this advice as the benefits far outweigh any potential risks.
Pregnant women should wear their seat belts much like any other passenger. The shoulder strap goes across the rib cage and chest, but away from the neck. The lap belt should always be across the hips and under the belly. Never put it across your belly as this is extremely dangerous and can cause serious injury or death in the event of a crash.
While seat belts are by far the best way to protect yourself from injury during a vehicle crash, they are not foolproof. If you have been injured in an accident, then you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim.
Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. have been fighting for the people. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side.
If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!
SENIOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY & FIRM FOUNDER
Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines