Why Don't Some People Use Seat Belts?
When I was a small child, my father bought his first new car, a 1966 Plymouth Belvedere. The only option he got was seat belts in the back seat. Ever since then, every time I get into a car, I buckle up. It’s second nature to me. On the rare occasions when I forget, I’m greeted by an obnoxious, flashing, red warning light on the dashboard that says, “hey stupid, buckle up!" This simple belt is a lifesaver. Working in conjunction with other auto safety devices and engineering innovations (air bags, collapsible steering columns, crumple zones, safety glass, soft dashboards etc…) they have save thousands of lives over the past few decades. But there are still many people who don’t use them.
While at a stop light the other morning, I glanced in the rear view mirror at a late model SUV. In the drivers seat was a woman who looked to be in her 30s. I noticed she had the seatbelt and shoulder harness on her.The other occupants of the car, one in front and two in the back, were small children. I could tell by their movements they were not buckled in. I wanted to say something to her, but the light changed and we went in separate directions. I can only assume that she is a typical mother who wanted the best for her kids and would take a bullet for them. Yet she was out on the roads playing Russian Roulette with her children’s lives.
It got me to thinking and for the rest of the week, when I was on the road, I glanced at other drivers to see if they were belted. In my extremely unscientific survey, I determined that at least one third of the drivers that I saw on the road were not wearing their safety belts.(The CDC says the number is more like 15%.)
Why don’t people buckle up? According to the safety blog, saferbychoose.com, some of the reason people eschew them is because:
1)They are uncomfortable (if you use them enough you will get used to them and won’t even notice you have them on)
2)They will wrinkle my clothes (They will only be wrinkled a little, And that expensive suit or dress won’t fit you anymore when you are in a wheelchair)
3)I’m a good driver,(yeah, but even the best make mistakes and the other driver may be distracted by, take your pick, cell phone, radio, mp 3 player, gps system)
4)They are worried about being trapped in a burning car (The chances of this happening are extremely small compared to being in an accident where the belts and safety system can save your life.)
5) I Have Airbags (Airbags are only part of a car safety system. They work best in conjunction with safety belts.)
None of these are good reasons to endanger your life or health.
How do Auto Safety Systems Work
As said before, Seat Belts are integral parts of car safety systems and safety systems are designed to prevent or lessen injuries from accidents. In order to understand how they belts work in harmony with the rest of the system, it is necessary to state what happens in a crash.
For example, when a car hits a brick wall head, at say 35 mph. The front end instantly stops moving. But the driver, passengers (and everything in the car) are still moving at 35 mph. In effect, there are two collisions. One is when the car hits the wall and the 2nd when the driver and passengers are thrown forward and hit the dashboard, steering wheel and windshield. It is in this second collision where seatbelts save lives.
Upon impact the seat belts tighten and instantly the airbags inflate keeping the driver or passenger from going forward and the high back seat prevents whiplash. Without the belts, a body would go forward faster and has a much greater chance of being injured.
Of course this a very simplified example. Most accidents don’t take involve a single car hitting a fixed object head on. An accident may involve multiple vehicles and road side objects and the collision may take place from many different angles. A seat belt will help you in many types of accidents. There are accidents that are so violent and severe, there is very little chance for survival. But they are not as common as the type of crash where seat belts will prevent or reduce injury.
According to the CDC website:
- Seatbelts saved almost 13,000 lives in 2009. The CDC estimates they have saved 255,000 lives since 1975.
- Seat belts reduce the reduce the risk of death and serious injury. In 2009, they reduced the chance of death by 45% and serious injury by 50% to front seat occupants of cars (compared to those were unrestrained in accident)
- Seat belts drastically reduce the number of people ejected from cars. People not wearing seatbelts are 30 times more likely to be ejected and 3 out of four people ejected from a car will die from their injuries.
While wearing a seatbelt is not a guarantee that you won’t be killed or maimed in a collision, the odds are a lot better for you if you are buckled. So if you don’t buckle up, I hope this Hub will make you think twice the next time you get behind the wheel.
When I was in high school, a very experienced State Trooper came to talk to us students about the benefits of seat belts. While the troopers speech was long and dull and by the end the auditorium was full of yawning and sleeping teenagers (I’ve learned it’s very tough to tell a 17 year old anything), one thing he said has stayed with me to this day. He said: “I’ve never unbuckled a dead body”