According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of seat belts in a vehicle is the most effective way to prevent injuries and save lives in the event of a car accident or other traffic crash. Yet despite the prevalence of seat belts in vehicles, state laws making seat belt use mandatory, and a public perception that seat belts are an important safety feature, far too few drivers and adult passengers use seat belts every time they ride.
In 2012 alone, more than 2.2 million Americans needed treatment in an emergency room due to injuries they sustained in a collision and non-fatal injuries are estimated to have cost more than $50 billion in that year in lost work costs and lifetime medical expenses.
In 2014, the national rate of seat belt use was 88.5 percent which was an all-time high yet 49 percent of people killed in traffic collisions in 2014 were not restrained, highlighting the fact that those who fail to use seat belts face a disproportionately high risk of death in a crash.
Seat belts clearly are important and the presence of airbags does not make seat belts unnecessary. Instead, adults should use seat belts in combination with airbags to keep themselves as safe as possible and to prevent harm.
In Illinois, the most important step you can take is to ensure you always are restrained in a vehicle, no matter the circumstances. If you drive yourself, you have no excuse when it comes to using a seat belt. If you are riding in a friend’s vehicle and that friend does not immediately reach for a seat belt, you should still buckle your seat belt and encourage others in the car to do the same. If you find yourself in a car that does not have a seat belt where you will be sitting or that has a non-functioning seat belt, exit the vehicle and find another means of transportation as convenience is never a good excuse to risk your safety.
Further, using your own seat belt at all times will serve as an example to others in your life, especially children and teenagers who may be watching you for guidance. Kids who grow up in a household where seat belts are required are more likely to use them as an adult than kids in homes with lax seat belt rules. Teenagers have some of the lowest rates of seat belt usage in Chicago and in the country as a whole so it is particularly important to explain to teens the importance of seat belts and why they must always be used.
Currently, Illinois has a 94 percent usage rate which is considerably higher than the average in the country but not high enough. Those who do not wear seat belts are sustaining injuries that affect them personally, their family members, loved ones, and coworkers, as well as causes our entire communities to suffer from increased demands on medical services and lost productivity as these victims are forced to miss time from their jobs. If you see a loved one failing to wear a seat belt, offer a kindly reminder to them to buckle up for safety and help our state be one of the safest for driving.
Prior Blog Entry:
Strains and Sprains are the Most Common Workers Compensation Claims, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published May 20, 2016.
NHTSA kicks off ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign as traffic fatalities rise, by Derrell Lyles, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, published May 12, 2016.
Seat Belts: Get the Facts, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published August 20, 2015.