Do you have a bad habit of getting in the car and forgetting to buckle up? That could cost you in an accident, since seatbelts and airbags should always work together to prevent serious injuries.

In any motor vehicle crash involving the deployment of an airbag, a passenger and a driver who is not wearing a seatbelt, is at a much higher risk of spinal cord injuries such as cervical spine fractures. That’s according to research that was published in Spine, a peer reviewed journal, several years ago.

A Pennsylvania trauma database was used to identify this study and looked at the types of injuries sustained by those sitting in the front seat between 1990 and 2002. Nearly 13,000 patients with spinal injuries were evaluated in the study. For those drivers using an airbag only, the rate of cervical spine fractures was 54%, when compared with 42% for those drivers who were wearing a seatbelt and had the benefit of the airbag. The risk of cervical spine fracture was 70% higher for drivers who used an airbag without a seatbelt when compared to a driver making the most of both protective devices. 

Ensuring that you have seatbelts and airbags that are functioning properly and wearing your seatbelt anytime you get into a car, even if you believe it’s going to be a quick trip are two of the most important things you can do to protect your safety. In the event of an accident, the seatbelt and the airbag can work together to decrease your accident likelihood and give you a better chance of walking away from the incident without catastrophic injuries.

If you have already been involved in a vehicle accident caused by someone else’s reckless behavior, even if you have used your seatbelt and the airbag, there is a good chance that you could still be suffering catastrophic injuries that have turned your life upside down. California law enables those victims who have sustained injuries or lost a loved one as a result of another person’s reckless behavior to file a legal claim to recover compensation.