It shouldn't take an After School Special about the dangers of not wearing your seat belt to convince people that it's a smart decision to wear one. Wearing a seat belt is the law in 49 states (New Hampshire is the sole holdout), but even that hasn't convinced some.
Crash test dummies
Car crashes are violent events. You and your vehicle are both traveling along at 55 miles per hour. Unless you're restrained, when you car comes to a sudden stop, you don't. Unrestrained occupants are shot out of their seats at whatever speed the car was traveling. Dashboards and windshields are unforgiving. Would you run headfirst into a brick wall at 55 miles an hour? Well, that's what you're risking every time you don't buckle up.
The good die young
Did you know that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for people aged 15-20? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), car crashes account for 1 out of every 3 teen deaths in America. And, most are completely preventable. Horrifying, isn't it? It's no coincidence that teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use.
Teenagers' lack of experience, feeling of invulnerability and penchant for recklessness make them the most accident prone age group. And, while accidents may happen, they don't have to be deadly. The majority of major injuries and deaths from auto accidents are preventable. And, it doesn't require anything more than wearing a seat belt.
Show a little restraint
According to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), and let's face it they should know, every hour in America a person dies simply because they weren't wearing their seat belt.
- 60% of passengers killed in auto accidents were not wearing seat belts
- Seat belts save nearly 14,000 lives a year
- Seat belts prevent nearly 325,000 serious injuries every year
- Wearing seat belts saves $50 billion in health care costs each year
I don't wanna
The reasons people don't wear seat belts are varied. Some people just forget, some don't like the way they feel and some just don't like being told what to do. But, are any of those good reasons to risk your life? And, if you have children, did you know that according to ACEP, when adults drive unbelted 76% of children do too? Saving your life or that of a loved one can be as simple as clicking your belt. Is it really worth the risk?
The good news
Seat belt use is on the rise. According to the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the national seat belt usage rate is about 83%. If that number were 90%, an estimated 1,652 lives would be saved. One of those lives could be yours or your child's.
Wearing seat belts is one of the simplest ways we can protect ourselves and our loved ones. If only every danger we face were as easily prevented.