No one wakes up thinking they will lose a loved one in a car crash that day. However, vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for children and young adults ages 5 to 24. They are the No. 2 cause of death for adults 25 and older and for toddlers, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Do you snap in your seat belt as soon as you get in the car? Do your children have the right safety seats for their weight and age? If you have answered no, even just once, you need to read on.
It has been proven repeatedly, on back roads and superhighways: A seat belt can save a life in a car accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 15,000 lives are saved each year in the United States because drivers and their passengers were wearing seat belts when they were in accidents. Whereas in India, all cars manufactured after March 25, 1994 are equipped with front seat belts. The rule was extended for rear seats in 2002. The usage of seat belts is to be implemented by the respective states, with most states making seat belt usage for front seat passengers mandatory in 2002. Older vehicles that did not originally have seat belts were exempted.
There is No Excuse Not To Buckle Up. See these facts
- I am not driving very far. FACT: Three out of four crashes occur within 25 miles of home.
- I am riding in the back seat. FACT: You can still be thrown from a vehicle even if you are riding in the back seat. If you are unrestrained, you also pose a risk to others in the vehicle with you.
- I am driving at night and the police will not see me. FACT: Police departments are increasing nighttime enforcement. In addition, there are more high-risk drivers on the roads at night such as impaired drivers and drowsy drivers, which may present increased risk for a crash.
- I am pregnant and the seat belt is too tight. FACT: Wearing your seat belt is the best defense for you and your baby in the event of a crash. Adjust the lap belt so that it fits snugly over the hips and pelvis, below your belly.
- I do not want to be trapped by a seat belt in case my vehicle catches fire or is submerged in water. FACT: Less than one-half of one percent of all injury crashes involves fire or submersion. In addition, national research has shown you are 25 times more likely to be killed if you are ejected from the vehicle.
Seat Belt Safety: 5-Way Protection
“Seat belts prevent occupants of the vehicle from serious injury in five ways,” says Angela Osterhuber, director of the Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project in Media, Pa. A seat belt: Keeps the occupants of the vehicle inside. “It’s clearly a myth that people are better off being thrown clear from the crash,” Osterhuber says. “People thrown from a vehicle are four times more likely to be killed than those who remain inside.”
Restrains the strongest parts of the body. “Restraints are designed to contact your body at its strongest parts. For an older child and adult, these parts are the hips and shoulders, which is where the seat belt should be strapped,” Osterhuber says.
Spreads out any force from the collision. “Lap-and-shoulder belts spread the force of the crash over a wide area of the body. By putting less stress on any one area, they can help you avoid serious injury,” Osterhuber says. A shoulder strap also helps keep your head and upper body away from the dashboard, steering wheel, and other hard interior parts of the automobile should you stop suddenly or be hit by another vehicle.
Helps the body to slow down. “What is it that causes injury? A quick change in speed,” Osterhuber says. “Seat belts help extend the time it takes for you to slow down in a crash.”
Protects your brain and spinal cord. A seat belt is designed to protect these two critical areas. “Head injuries may be hard to see immediately, but they can be deadly,” Osterhuber says. Likewise, spinal cord injuries can have serious consequences.
Seat Belt Safety: Buckle Up Correctly
Adjusting your seat belt properly is a must: Getting the right fit is as important as wearing it. The strap that goes across your lap should fit snugly over your hips and upper thigh area. If the belt rides up on the stomach, it could cause serious injuries in a crash.
Shoulder belts should rest securely across your chest and shoulders between your breasts. Do not ever let the strap fall across your neck or face and never place the strap under your arms or behind your back. Any one of these positions can cause serious injury.
Seat Belt Safety: Rules for Infants and Children
Children are not small adults — they need specialized protection in a moving vehicle. Their skeletal structure is different. Age, height, and weight determine the safest way for a child to travel.
Top Tips to buckle up infants
- Use a booster seat with the vehicle lap AND shoulder safety belts until your child passes the following Safety Belt Fit Test:
- Be sure your kids are ready for a seat belt by giving them the following Safety Belt Fit Test:
- Your children’s knees should bend at the edge of the seat when their backs and bottoms are against the vehicle seat back; and
- The vehicle lap belt should fit across the upper thighs; and
- The shoulder belt should fit across the shoulder and chest. Children are usually between 8 and 12 years old when the seat belt fits them properly.
- Once your children pass the Safety Belt Fit Test, teach them the importance of using seat belts on every ride, whether they’re with you or not. This is a habit you can instill at an early age. If they learn this lesson early, they will be more likely to buckle up when they are older or when you are not around.
- Kids are VIPs – just ask them. VIPs ride in the back seat, so keep all kids in the back seat until they are 13.
- When adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So be a good example and buckle up for every ride. Be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up, too.
- A lap and shoulder belt provides the best protection for your children and should be used on every ride.
- We know kids like to slouch or lean against the windows during the drive, but it makes a difference in terms of safety. Have your children sit upright when using seat belts.
Why risk your life or other’s life? It takes only a few seconds to buckle up once you get in the car.