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10 Facts All Drivers Should Know about Seat Belts

Posted in Car Accident on November 21, 2018

On January 1, 1968, federal law began requiring that all standard passenger automobiles manufactured from that point forward had to be equipped with seat belts for drivers and passengers. The seat belt is a safety feature that many people take for granted, but its effectiveness and its impact on vehicle safety are undeniable.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that seat belt usage in 2016 alone saved nearly 15,000 lives. And while seat belt usage is high in the U.S., with more than 90 percent of drivers and passengers buckling up, the remaining 10 percent still account for 27.5 million unbuckled people on the nation’s roadways. If everyone riding in vehicles buckled up on every trip, nearly 2,500 lives would have been saved in 2016.

At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville auto accident lawyers know how important seat belts are for the safety of drivers in Tennessee. Since April 21, 1986, state law has required the usage of seat belts for drivers and passengers. Buckling up is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of an auto accident, as studies show that it significantly reduces the risk of injuries and death during crashes.

But if you or someone you love gets hurt in an accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s important to make sure your rights are protected. Contact us today to find out how we can help—just dial (615) 200-1111 or fill out an online contact form, and let us put our years of experience to work for you.

Learn More about the Importance of Seat Belts

The NHTSA is emphasizing the importance of seat belts ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend, which will see millions of Americans hit the nation’s roadways on their way to visit family and friends. Wearing a seat belt is one of the best ways to protect yourself when you’re traveling via car, truck, or SUV.

For more information about seat belts and why they’re so important, read the following 10 facts about these essential vehicle safety devices:

  1. Buckling up significantly reduces the chances of deadly ejections—One of the most dangerous things that can happen to auto accident victims is ejection. People who are ejected during crashes are extremely likely to suffer fatal injuries. If you don’t buckle up, you’re 30 times more likely to be ejected during a crash than if you had worn your seat belt.
  2. Wearing a seat belt reduces chances of both fatal injuries and critical injuries—The NHTSA reports that front-seat passengers in vehicles involved in crashes are 45 percent less likely to suffer fatal injuries when they’re buckled up and 50 percent less likely to suffer moderate to critical injuries. Those numbers increase to 60 percent and 65 percent for occupants of light trucks.
  3. Seat belts are the most effective safety features for protecting vehicle occupants—There are many things drivers and passengers can do to protect themselves during crashes, and there are many safety features designed to reduce the risk of injuries and death. But none are as effective as buckling up, which only takes a second and is mandatory in Tennessee.
  4. Air bags aren’t replacements for seat belts—Air bags are important safety features during crashes, as they help soften the blow when occupants are pushed forward towards steering wheels, dashboards, seats, or doors. But air bags are designed to work in conjunction with seat belts—not as replacements for them.
  5. Seat belts should be worn properly for maximum effectiveness—For seat belts to work as intended, they should fit vehicle occupants the right way. That means lap belts should be secure across the pelvis and shoulder belts should be secure across the rib cage. Lap belts should always rest along the hips, not the stomach, and shoulder belts should never be placed behind your back or under your arm.
  6. Damaged seat belts can lose their effectiveness—If your vehicle has been involved in an accident, inspect the seat belts for signs of damage. You should also closely check the seat belts of any used vehicles you’re thinking about purchasing. Seat belts that are worn, damaged, or frayed may not provide adequate protection during crashes.
  7. Wearing your seat belt sets a positive example for your children—In addition to protecting yourself and obeying Tennessee law, wearing your seat belt every time you drive or ride in a vehicle is important for your children. Buckling up consistently sets a good example, and your children will be more likely to use their seat belts when they start driving.
  8. Seat belts are vital even for short trips—Don’t let short trips on low-speed rural roads make you complacent about seat belt usage. Many of the most dangerous crashes occur during routine driving conditions or areas, and most fatal crashes occur within 25 miles of home for the drivers and passengers who lose their lives.
  9. Young men are the most at risk for not wearing their seat belts—Young drivers and passengers in general are less likely to buckle up than older vehicle occupants, but young men are the most at risk for unbuckled-related injuries. The NHTSA reports that 65 percent of men ages 18 to 34 who are killed in auto accidents were unbuckled at the time.
  10. Children can begin transitioning to seat belts in backseats between 8 and 12 years of age—Kids should be properly restrained throughout their lives, including rear-facing car seats, regular car seats, and booster seats. Older kids can begin transitioning to regular seat belts when they fit them properly. However, children should remain in the backseats of vehicles until around the age of 13.

Injuries are all too common after auto accidents. At Matt Hardin Law, we believe in the effectiveness of adopting safe and defense driving habits, including obeying the speed limit, never driving while impaired or distracted, and maintaining a safe following distance.

Accidents Happen, But We’re Here to Help.

Even the safest and most effective driving safety tips can’t always prevent crashes—especially when negligent and careless drivers are on the road. Taking just a moment to buckle up every time you get in a vehicle, whether you’re a driver or a passenger, can help you cut down on the risks you face. And if you are involved in a crash, you’ll be much less likely to suffer critical or even life-threatening injuries.

If you do suffer injuries, it’s important to remember that you may be able to file a claim for compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. Our legal team can investigate your crash, collect evidence that proves the other driver was at fault, and negotiate to get you maximum compensation for your accident-related expenses. Contact us today—we’re here to help.