Following seat belt laws has been proven to help save lives in the case of a car accident. Unfortunately, many people fail to properly use restraints while driving or riding in a vehicle. Misconceptions about the safety of seat belts may be partially to blame for a failure to wear seat belts in a vehicle, but statistics show that restraints are truly effective at reducing the possibility of fatal injuries.
Injuries and death related to vehicle accidents affect millions of people every year. In 2009, 2.3 million people required medical assistance from the emergency department at a hospital due to injuries sustained during a motor vehicle crash. This number represents only the adults who were injured in crashes. The long term costs related to injuries or fatalities suffered as a result of a crash are staggering. It is estimated that the long term expenses related to crashes in 2005 topped $70 billion. This includes medical expenses, loss of wages, long term medical care and funeral expenses. The age group most likely to be involved in a crash is young adults who are between the ages of 18 and 24. Wearing a seat belt is able to reduce the likelihood of sustaining a serious injury or fatality as a result of a vehicle crash by approximately 50 percent. Passengers riding in the rear portion of a large SUV or van are able to reduce the likelihood of serious injury or fatality during a vehicle crash by about 73 percent by simply using the proper seat belt restraint device as required by law.
Young adults in the 18 to 34 age range are the least likely to wear a seat belt restraint while a vehicle is in operation. Men wear seat belts less frequently than women do, and studies show that people living in rural areas generally wear seat belts less frequently than people who live in either suburban or urban areas. Seat belt laws also have an impact on seat belt use. More people wear seat belts when there are primary enforcement laws in place than when there are only secondary enforcement laws in place.
Statistics that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has gathered indicate that seat belt use is on the rise. In 2010, 85 percent of people driving or riding in a car used seat belts. An impressive 95 percent of people living in Western states use seat belts. Statistics show that people tend to wear seat belts most often while traveling during weekdays and while driving on major highways. States with primary enforcement laws enjoy the highest percentage of seat belt wearers as opposed to those that only utilize secondary enforcement laws.
The bottom line is that wearing a seat belt can help both drivers and passengers save money by avoiding tickets and serious injury or even death in the event of a crash. Seat belts should be worn any time a vehicle is in operation, whether a trip is short or the vehicle is only driven on rural roads.