Car accidents are among the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 36,096 deaths as a result of traffic accidents in 2019. Each year, millions of Americans are injured as a result of motor vehicle accidents as well.
It is worth noting that more than half of the people killed in car accidents were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. It is a well-established fact that wearing a seatbelt is the most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a car accident. There is no question that seatbelt use has been on the rise.
Thanks to seatbelt laws, education and technology, the national use rate was at 90.7% in 2019. Of the over 22,000 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2019, nearly half were not wearing seat belts. Seat belts saved nearly 15,000 lives and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they were wearing a seatbelt.
The Benefits of Buckling Up
When you wear a seatbelt, you are kept safe and secure inside a vehicle. When you are not buckled up, you could be completely or partially ejected from the vehicle in the event of a crash, which could result in catastrophic injuries or death. It is important to remember that airbags alone are not sufficient to protect occupants during a crash.
In fact, the force with which an airbag deploys can seriously injure or even kill vehicle occupants if they are not buckled up. People who don’t wear their seatbelts properly are also at risk. For example, if you place the strap of the seatbelt below your arm, you face a heightened risk of serious injury in a crash.
According to NHTSA’s statistics, if you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of death by 45% and moderate to critical injury by 50%. If you use a seatbelt in a light truck, you can decrease your risk from fatal injury by 60% and for moderate and critical injury by 65%.
Studies have shown that teens and young adults are least likely to use a seatbelt and men are less likely than women to buckle up. A 2017 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) showed that seatbelt use was higher in states like Rhode Island, where vehicle occupants could be pulled over by the police solely for not wearing a seatbelt. According to the NOPUS study, people who live in the western region of the United States are more likely to wear a seatbelt. Among vehicle owners, occupants of vans and SUVs are more likely to buckle up, while the occupants of pickup trucks are the least likely.
Primary and Secondary Enforcement Laws
Laws requiring seatbelt use could be either “primary” or “secondary” enforcement laws. Primary enforcement laws allow law enforcement officials to pull over drivers and issue citations just because the drivers or their passengers are not buckled up. Secondary enforcement laws only allow law enforcement officials to issue tickets for seatbelt violations if the drivers have been already pulled over for some other offense. Secondary enforcement greatly limits officials’ ability to enforce seatbelt laws.
“Enhanced enforcement” programs seek to better support seatbelt laws by either increasing the average number of citations officers issue or by increasing the number of officers on patrol. These measures are supported by campaigns such as the “Click It or Ticket” initiative. Studies have shown that enhanced enforcement programs increase seatbelt use by a median of 16 percentage points.
Selt Belt Safety Inforgraph
Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident involving someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization and pain and suffering. Families that have lost loved ones in car accidents may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party for losses damages such as medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost future income and loss of love and companionship.
Our experienced Rhode Island car accident lawyers have a long and successful track record of helping injured car accident victims and their families seek and obtain maximum compensation for their losses. We do not charge any fees unless we have recovered compensation for you. Call our personal injury law firm at 1-800-922-6878 to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation and case evaluation.