If passengers are not wearing seat belts in a car crash, two instances of collision take place. First, their bodies keep moving forward until they collide with a part of the car or other passengers. The second collision happens as their internal organs slam against their ribcages or other internal organs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that this internal collision often causes severe injury or death.
Pressure from seat belts lessens the effect of this second collision by holding people in place and stopping them more gradually. Seat belts also keep people from colliding with a part of the car or other passengers—if they buckle up before the crash.
How Important Are Seat Belts?
In the United States, seat belts reduce the risk of death in a crash by about half. Most Americans realize the importance of seat belts and wear them as directed, but some people still aren’t sure. The NHTSA puts out a lot of information about seat belt safety, including the importance of wearing a seat belt correctly.
When a driver doesn’t live up to a standard of care and causes injuries, that’s known as negligence. Negligence can take many forms, but courts have defined some ways that negligence can affect your ability to recover damages for injuries you’ve suffered:
- If you can prove that the driver was negligent in one or more ways, that adds to your case.
- The driver was distracted or careless, like texting or talking on the phone, and didn’t see a car in their path or didn’t have time to avoid it.
- The driver’s vehicle had a defect, like an airbag that didn’t deploy, or the driver didn’t maintain it to safe use, like failing to replace a worn tire.
- The driver was under drugs or alcohol or didn’t have a clear head.
- The driver didn’t wear a safety belt or misused it.
How to Wear Seat Belts Correctly
Wearing your safety belt properly is vital. You can still be injured even if you are wearing a seat belt, but you’ll be much more likely to recover from minor injuries if you wear your belt as directed.
In addition to the points above, keep a few other things in mind when wearing your seat belt:
- Do not wear the shoulder belt behind your back.
- Never wear a seat belt under your arm.
- Do not put a purse or other objects on the seat belt.
- Never wear your seat belt over your stomach.
- Do not wear the shoulder belt over your chest. It should be worn over your shoulder and across your chest.
- Don’t tuck your clothing into the belt.
- Never wear the shoulder belt under your arm.
- Don’t wear the shoulder belt behind your back.
- Wear a lap belt that is snug against your body.
Even a simple safety measure like wearing seat belts in the right way can save your life and others. It could be the difference between severe injuries, minor injuries, and no injuries at all. You don’t have to wear your belt if you don’t want to, but it could make a huge difference if you’re in an accident.
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