See how wearing a seat belt can save you from potentially fatal consequences.
Motor vehicles today are equipped with more safety features than ever before. Our cars have tire pressure monitoring systems, back-up cameras and automatic gear transitions. But, while excellent, none of these are as critical to passenger safety as the modest and all essential seat belts.
Findings by the CDC suggest that seat belts can reduce the risk of injuries or death by about half. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts save more than 15,000 lives in the US every year.
It is a very simple thing… Seat Belts Save Lives.
Unfortunately, many drivers and co-passengers choose to ignore this simple and effective injury-prevention device and put themselves at risk of trauma or even death.
Proof is In the Numbers
One of the safest choices we can make while travelling in a car is to buckle up. Thanks to efforts by various government agencies, more and more Americans have started to understand the lifesaving value of the seat belt. Stats from the NHTSA show us that the national use rate of seat belts was up to 90.7% in 2019.
Lives are saved by seat belts in a year.
Lives could have been saved each year (if a seat belt had been used).
Unrestrained vehicle occupants are killed in accidents in a typical year.
- 54 %
Unrestrained 13 to 15-year-old vehicle occupants can be killed in crashes in a year.
Reduced risk of fatal injury while wearing a lap/shoulder seat belt (front-seat passenger).
Reduced risk of moderate to critical injury by wearing seat belt (front seat passenger).
- 90.9 %
Motorists traveling through clear weather have started using seat belts. Compared to 89.3% the previous year.
Stay Buckled. Stay Safe.
Many of us may already know the benefits of fastening a seat belt. Nevertheless, let us go through these points together and refresh our understanding.
How do seat belts keep us safe?
- Keep vehicle occupants inside:
There is a longstanding myth that in case of an accident it is safer for the occupants if they are thrown out of the vehicle and away from the crash. However, the truth is that people thrown from a vehicle are 4 times more likely to be killed than those who remain inside. This explains why it is important to secure ourselves in place with a seat belt and increase our chances of survival.
- Leverage the strongest parts of the body:
Hips and shoulders are the strongest parts of the adult as well as a child’s body. Seat belts are designed to contact the body at these parts, providing optimum protection while ensuring minimum damage to the bones.
- Spread out the collision force:
Fastening a lap/shoulder belt ensures that the force of the crash is spread over a wider area of the body. This, in turn, helps the body handle impact better and possibly avoid serious injury.
- Reduces thrust time:
Oftentimes, an abrupt change in speed is what leads to sharp thrusts of the body, resulting in injury. Seat belts prevent this because they extend the time it takes for our body to move when in a crash. If we are not buckled up, our body could end up hitting the dashboard or even a side window because of the sudden jerk.
- Protects the brain and spinal cord:
Traumatic injuries to the head and spine are very common consequences of a crash in cases where proper safety belts were not employed. In some cases, the victims might not realize the effects until much later. Fortunately, seat belts are designed to protect our vulnerable head and spine during the sudden jolt of an accident.
- A matter of law:
Many states across the US have strict laws to enforce the usage of seat belts. So, if your safety is not reason enough for you, remember that wearing the belt is required by law. In fact, you may have to pay expensive fines in case you are caught without one.
- Helps for insurance claims:
Many insurance providers choose to reject claims for accident damages if the driver and/or passengers were not wearing seat belts at the time of the incident. So, the next time you decide to take a drive without wearing the belt, remember that it can cost your health and your money.
- Increases the air bag’s protection:
Some of us may believe that air bags alone are an effective substitute for seat belts. While they are an excellent safety feature, but air bags on their own will not protect you in case of a hard impact.
Please understand that without a seat belt, it is unlikely that our body will remain in a position that allows the air bag to inflate properly. In fact, without a seat belt, the body could be thrown rapidly into an opening frontal air bag. Such force could cause greater injury or even death.
The air bag safety information from NHTSA helps us understand this in detail.
The Buckle-up Checklist:
- Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.
- Seat belts are a must not just for each person in the car.
- Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them
- Do it right:
- The lap belt and shoulder belt should be secured across the pelvis and rib cage respectively.
- Place the shoulder belt away from your neck, rest it across the middle of your chest.
- The lap belt should rest across your hips, not stomach.
- Do not put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.
- Find the fit:
- Before buying a car, check if the seat belts are a good fit for you.
- Many dealers and manufacturers provide seat belt adjusters or extenders to help you get the right fit.
- If you drive an older or classic car that has only a lap belt, check with the vehicle manufacturer about how to retrofit a modern and safer belt.
Seat Belts for Pregnant Women
Pregnancy months are like walking on eggshells. One can never be too careful. If you or your loved one is driving during these months, wearing a seat belt is even more important. In fact, doctors always recommend it. Buckling up while driving is the single most effective action you can take to protect yourself and your unborn child in a crash.
Make sure you know how to position your seat and wear the belt during pregnancy. If you are looking for more details, you will find the NHTSA’s recommendations for pregnant drivers very useful.
Get the Facts Right
There are many misunderstandings surrounding seat belt usage. Take this quiz to see if you’ve got your facts rights:
- If a car has air bags, you do not need to wear a seat belt.
A combination of both—seat belts and air bags—is the safest way to drive. Even without an air bag, you are safer buckled up than you would be with only air bags and no seat belts.
- Seat belts can trap you in a fire or under water.
Firstly, incidents involving fire or drowning cars are very rare. But should the situation arise, you need to be conscious to move and escape. If you wear a seat belt, chances of you being knocked-out or hurt by impact are significantly lowered—increasing your chances of escaping from the car in time.
- Seat belts are compulsory only for long distance drives.
According to research, most fatal car crashes happen within 25 miles from home and at speeds less than 40 mph. So, do not be deceived by the distance or familiarity of the route. Wear your seat belt each time you drive.
- Seat belts can hurt you in a crash.
The truth is that in a crash anything in the car can hurt you. There is a remote chance that the seat belt’s clip or tension might hurt you, but it is also one of the things that can actually save you from severe injuries.
- Larger vehicles like pickups are safer and the riders do not need to wear seat belts.
Irrespective of the size of your vehicle, seat belts are absolutely necessary. Use of seat belts in SUVs, pickups, and vans reduces the risk of fatal injury to the driver and front seat passenger by 60%#.
- It is not essential for guys to wear seat belts.
Of the male vehicle occupants who were killed in fatal crashes, 60% were not buckled (age group of 18 to 34 years).*
Keeping Kids and Tweens in the Belt
The best time to transition your child from a booster seat to an adult seat belt usually comes between 8 and 12 years of age. Best way to judge is to keep your children in booster seats until they outgrow it or are big enough to fit properly in seat belts.
Know about fitting your child or tween correctly in a seat belt:
- For your child to properly fit in a seat belt, he or she must be tall enough to sit without slouching and be able to:
- Keep his or her back against the vehicle seat;
- Keep his or her knees naturally bent over the edge of the vehicle seat; and
- Keep his or her feet flat on the floor.
- Never let a child put the shoulder belt under an arm or behind the back because it could cause severe injuries in a crash.
- If your child is under 13 years of age, keep them in the back seat because it is safer there.
- Children are most influenced by their parents’ driving practices. So make sure you buckle-up before starting the car, each time, and practice safe driving habits.
As children come to be tweens (age group of 8 to 14 years), you may face challenges enforcing seat belt safety. But remember: Don’t give up until they buckle up!
Tweens go through several developmental stages—social, cognitive, and emotional. If we understand these stages we can find helpful insights into how they perceive things and how we can get messages through to them. This information is most helpful to get your tweens (and kids) buckled-up properly, for the whole ride, every time!
Encourage Teenagers to Follow the Buckle Rules
You may have managed to coax your young children into wearing the seat belt but ensuring that they continue to follow the rules even as teenagers is a whole new challenge.
Teens and new drivers often fall for the ‘too cool for safety’ act and suffer unfortunate consequences.
As parents or guardians, it is important to remember that safety is not a one-time conversation—it’s ongoing. Keep talking to your teens about various safety measures that they should take while driving (or riding along with friends), including wearing the seat belt. You can set the example by always wearing your seat belt and reminding your teens that buckling up is the law.
Choose Family1st. Not Worry.
As parents, we do everything in our power to teach safety measures to our loved ones. But we still drown ourselves in worry over their safety when they are away from us.
At Family1st, we understand your concern. Which is why, we design top-class and easy-to-implement solutions from vehicle trackers to medical monitoring devices, at the best price and help you ensure the safety of your dear ones.
It’s time to put worry away and choose your Family1st!