In case you need a reminder to buckle up, these seatbelt facts are just your ticket.
It doesn’t make good business sense to give away your most groundbreaking ideas. Yet that’s precisely what the car company Volvo did in 1959 when they patented the three-point seatbelt. Though lap belts were somewhat common, they weren’t very effective, so engineer Nils Bohlin created the easy-to-use lap and shoulder seatbelt that we still use today. Volvo recognized the importance of this invention and made the design available for free to any auto maker who chose to use it.
Seatbelt facts and statistics aren’t all fun trivia, though. There are some scary and some encouraging facts that can help us all stay safe when we get in a car. These facts come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Michigan State Police, the Governors Highway Safety Association, and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
15 Shocking Seatbelt Facts
1. Seatbelts save lives.
Seatbelts save an estimated 13,000 lives every year. That’s around 35 people every single day.
2. Seatbelts save teen lives.
Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. According to the CDC, six teens between the ages of 16 and 19 die every day in motor vehicle accidents, and yet 61% of teens don’t always wear seatbelts when riding with another driver.
3. Seatbelts keep you inside your vehicle. Part 1
You are 30 times more likely to be ejected from your vehicle in a crash if you don’t wear a seatbelt.
4. Seatbelts keep you inside your vehicle. Part 2
And that's precisely where you want to stay in the event of an accident. 80% of occupants ejected from a vehicle in a crash are killed. Those who survive suffer debilitating, life-changing injuries.
5. More people are using seatbelts.
In 1981, only 11% of vehicle occupants used seatbelts. As of 2017, 89.7% of vehicle occupants regularly use seatbelts.
6. Seatbelt laws work.
Drivers and passengers in states with primary seatbelt laws* are 10% more likely to buckle up than drivers and passengers in states without primary seatbelt laws.
*Primary seatbelt laws allow police to stop a vehicle solely because of a failure to use a seatbelt. In states with secondary seatbelt laws, you can't get pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt, but if you get pulled over for another traffic violation, you could get a ticket for failure to use your safety belt.
7. Seatbelts won’t trap you.
Some people choose not to wear seatbelt, believing that they could become trapped if their car becomes submerged or catches fire. According to the Michigan State Police, however, “Crashes involving fire or water happen in only 1/2 of one percent of all crashes.” In those cases, you are far more likely to remain conscious if you wear your seatbelt, giving you the ability to get yourself out of a “potential fire or submerged car situation.”
8. Seatbelts won’t hurt you in an accident.
While you could get abrasions or bruises from a seatbelt in a crash, those injuries are far less severe than what could happen if you don’t wear a seatbelt. In cases where an injury is seatbelt-related, it is still almost always better than the injuries that would result from not wearing a seatbelt.
9. Airbags don’t replace seatbelts.
Airbags are designed to work in conjunction with seatbelts, not as replacements. Without a belt, the force of an airbag opening could easily injure you.
10. Seatbelts are adjustable.
Most newer cars allow you to adjust the height of your belt, providing a more comfortable and secure fit.
11. Seatbelts reduce your risk of injury. Part 1
In the front seat of a car, occupants wearing seatbelts can reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 45%. In a small truck, that jumps to 60%.
12. Seatbelts reduce your risk of injury. Part 2
Wearing a seatbelt cuts the risk of moderate to critical injuries by 50% for occupants in the front seat of a car. For trucks, the risk of a moderate to critical injury goes down by 65%.
13. Children always have to buckle up.
Though state laws vary for adults, all 50 states and Washington, D.C., require children to be either in a safety seat, in a booster seat, or wearing a seatbelt, depending on their age, height, and weight.
14. Wearing a seatbelt could save you money.
Or rather, failure to wear it could cost you. Fines range from $10 in Wisconsin to $40 in Rhode Island, $130 in Oregon, and up to $200 in Texas.
15. Taking it slow is no excuse.
To your body, a crash at the seemingly low speed of 25 mph is the equivalent of falling from a second story window.
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