Car accidents are the leading cause of death in Americans between ages five and 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Experts say there is one simple step that motorists can take to dramatically reduce their risk of serious injuries: buckle up. In this post, our Kansas City car accident lawyers share some facts and statistics about seat belt use.
What is the effect of seat belt use on auto accident injuries and fatalities?
• Safety experts say that wearing a seat belt is the simplest, most effective way to prevent crash-related injuries. According to the CDC, wearing a seat belt reduces your risk of moderate to critical injury by 50%.
• Seat belts significantly reduce your chances of being ejected from your vehicle in the event of an accident. Many crash fatalities occur because of occupant ejection: in 2008, 77% of passengers who were totally ejected from their vehicles were killed.
• Appropriate restraints and child safety seats are even more essential for young passengers. Using a safety seat properly reduces fatal injury risks by 71% in infants and 54% in toddlers between ages one and four.
• Between 2004 and 2008, seat belt use saved more than 75,000 lives in the U.S.
Why don't more people wear their seat belts?
Thankfully, more and more people are using their seat belts in recent years. In fact, in 2012, seat belt use reached an all-time high of 86% nationwide. However, some motorists still refuse to buckle up. Here are some common reasons people give for choosing not to wear a seat belt:
• Seat belts are uncomfortable. Seat belts are designed to keep you safe while allowing you to move comfortably. Many motorists who find seat belts uncomfortable simply aren't used to wearing them on a regular basis. It's important to remember that the advantages of wearing your seat belt far outweigh any minor inconveniences of buckling up.
• My vehicle has air bags, so I don't need to wear a belt. Air bags and seat belts are made to work together to provide motorists with protection in all kinds of crashes. Air bags can provide important protection in accidents involving front or side impact, but seat belts can be essential in rear-end collisions or rollover crashes. Don't assume that you don't need your seat belt because your vehicle is equipped with air bags.
• I don't want to be trapped if my vehicle catches fire or becomes submerged in water following a crash. Only one-half of one percent of motor vehicle accidents involve fire or water. If one of these crashes does happen to you, you're much more likely to avoid being knocked unconscious if you're buckled up - and remaining conscious is essential if you're going to escape your vehicle.
• I'm just driving down the road, and I won't even be going that fast. All too many crash deaths occur close to home and at low speeds. There's never an excuse not to buckle up.