Facts Everyone Should Know About Seatbelt Safety
Seat belts are not exactly a new idea, as restraints have been around for a couple of centuries. But they were not made an essential part of a car’s safety gear until the 1970s. It was not until the 1980s and into the 1990s that seat belts laws were standard in all 50 states. Today, if you decide to ride in a car without a seat belt, there is a very good chance you’ll get to meet one of your town’s police officers up close and personal.
There is a very good reason why seats belts are the law of the land – they are proven to save lives. There are a number of myths out there about seat belts, and the vast majority of them are not true. There are very good reasons you should always wear your seat belts.
Seat Belt Myths and Mistruths
Here are some of the more common myths involving seat belts. Chances are you have heard some of these stories from friends or family, and here is the real truth about these myths.
- Seat belts can trap you if you have a wreck inside your vehicle
This is one of the more common myths. Research has shown that it takes a little more than one second to unbuckle a seat belt, and that research has also shown that seat belts help to keep you from being knocked unconscious. It stands to reason that if you are conscious, you stand a much better chance of escaping from your vehicle in case of an accident.
- Seat belts help on long trips, but you really do not need them on short trips close to home
This is another common myth. Research has proven that more than half of the deaths caused by traffic accidents happen within 25 miles of a person’s home. It does not matter how short your drive is, bad things can happen at any time and you need not take a chance when you do not have to.
- You can be thrown from a vehicle in an accident and walk away without a scratch
This may be one of the worst myths out there. Research has clearly shown over the years that you have a five times better chance of surviving an accident if you are not thrown from a vehicle on impact. Seats belts can keep you from being thrown under your vehicle, or into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
- Child seats are not needed if you are only going around the corner
Research shows that the number one cause of death in children that is preventable, are car accidents. The law of the land specifies that kids under the age of 8 be restrained in a federally-approved child safety seat if they are under 4’ 9” in height, and if they are over this height, they must be buckled in with a seat belt. If you are seen by a police officer with a small child that is unrestrained, you’re going to get a stern lecture and a very expensive ticket. And if you are the parent of a child that is riding in a car unrestrained, it could also earn you a visit from the people at Child Protective Services, who will want some answers to some very tough questions.
The fact of the matter is, if you are struck, your vehicle may very well stop. But keep in mind if your vehicle was going 35 mph, YOU are going 35 mph too, and you will not stop as your vehicle does. You will collide with the insides of your car and in most cases, will receive a very serious injury. To get an idea of how serious this is, hitting the dash of your car going 30 mph is roughly equivalent to a drop off of a 3-story building.
Airbags Are Not Enough For Safety
If you drive a late model car with modern front and side air bags, do not be lulled into thinking that is enough to keep you safe in case of an accident. Without wearing a seat belt, you can actually be injured by the air bags if you are involved in a wreck. So never go without your seat belts, especially in a car equipped with air bags.
The Bottom Line
It does not matter what age you are, seat belts are the top safety device in a car, and can save you from injury or worse if you are involved in an accident. It is not just the law of the land in all 50 states; it is just plain old good common sense for you and your family.