Jeffrey Stone, MBA
In the United States, motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death, especially among children and young adults. The simple act of buckling your seat belt every time you get in a vehicle can save your life! If you have not made seatbelts part of your traveling routine, learn why you should change your behavior.
In a motor vehicle collision, medical experts have identified three impacts:
Unbelted occupants can also be ejected from the vehicle, which is one of the most injurious events that can happen during a crash.
Here is what seat belts do for you in a collision:
Air bags are designed to be used along with seat belts, not as a substitute for them. There are a number of reasons for this. For example, if your car has a front air bag, it will only deploy in a certain type of crash. So, if a vehicle collides into the side of your car, the front air bag will not inflate. But, wearing a seat belt can keep you secure and protect you from injury. Also, if you are involved in an accident and the air bag is deployed, the device will quickly deflate. So, unlike the seat belt, the air bag will not be able to continue to protect you if there are a series of collisions. Additionally, a properly worn seat belt keeps you secure and in the proper position if the air bag does deploy.
In the United States, all of the states, except for New Hampshire, have seat belt laws for adults. Depending on where you are, not wearing a seatbelt can result in an expensive fine. Thankfully, most people do buckle up—not to avoid fines, but to avoid injury.
If you are someone, though, who has not made wearing a seat belt part of your lifestyle, see if you can find your reasons below, then read the list of realities.
If you feel that being a good driver means you do not need a seat belt, NASCAR driver Jeff Burton begs to differ. Burton, who drives at speeds of over 200 miles per hour in races, was in a serious passenger car crash, but he was wearing a seat belt and was not seriously injured.
"People who have never been in a wreck need to listen to those who have and who drive for a living," says Burton. "We know what your body goes through and how hard the impacts are. I can't imagine getting hit at 30 miles per hour without wearing a seat belt. If you can't avoid an accident, the next best thing is to have your seat belt on."
You have heard it before, because it is true: Better safe than sorry.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Network of Employers for Traffic Safety
Alberta Motor Association
Canada Safety Council
Motor vehicle safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/. Updated October 4, 2011. Accessed June 5, 2012.
Seat belt laws. Governors Highway Safety Association website. Available at: http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/seatbelt_laws.html. Updated June 2012. Accessed June 5, 2012.
Seat belt safety. Arizona Department of Public Safety website. Available at: http://www.azdps.gov/information/Seat_Belts/. Accessed June 5, 2012.
Seat belts and airbags, helpful safety aids. Safe Ride.org website. Available at: http://www.saferide.org/seat_belts_airbags.html. Accessed June 5, 2012.
Seat belts fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/seatbelts/facts.html. Updated January 4, 2011. Accessed June 5, 2012.
Seat belts: your single most effective safety step. National Safety Council website. Available at: http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/DriverSafety/Pages/SeatBelts.aspx. Accessed June 5, 2012.
Seatbelts: why you should use them. Oklahoma State University Safety Training website. Available at: http://www.ehs.okstate.edu/kopykit/seatbelt.htm. Accessed June 5, 2012.
What you need to know about air bags. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. Available at: http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/airbags/airbags03/airbags1.html. Accessed June 5, 2012.
Last reviewed June 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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