Airbags and Seatbelts

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How Many of These Stories Have You Heard?


  • "I don't need a safety belt when I'm traveling at low speeds or going on a short trip."
  • "When I have my lap belt fastened, I don't need to use my shoulder belt."
  • "I always sit in the back seat, so I don't need to wear my seat belt."
  • "I might be saved if I'm thrown clear of the car in an accident."
  • "If I wear a safety belt, I might be trapped in a burning or submerged vehicle!"
  • "My vehicle has an airbag. I don't need to use the seat belt."
  • "It's OK for my pre-teen children to ride in the front seat even though I have passenger side airbags."
  • "It's nobody's business but my own if I don't wear my seat belt. The seat belt laws are a violation of my constitutional rights."


"I don't need a safety belt when I'm traveling at low speeds or going on a short trip."

More than 80% of all accidents occur at speeds less than 40 mph. Fatalities involving non-belted occupants of cars have been recorded at as low as 12 mph. That's about the speed you'd be driving in a parking lot. 3 out of 4 accidents causing death occur within 25 miles of home. Belt up before driving to your shopping center--just as you would for a long trip.

 

"When I have my lap belt fastened, I don't need to use my shoulder belt."

A lap belt will protect you from serious injury. But a shoulder belt provides important additional protection. During a crash, a shoulder belt keeps your head and chest from striking the steering wheel, dashboard and windshield. A lap and shoulder belt combined offers you the best possible seat belt protection in the event of crash.

Another dangerous trend is to place the shoulder belt underneath an arm or behind the back of the person, thinking that the lap belt alone will be sufficient protection. However, the act of placing the shoulder belt in a place other than across the chest and shoulder is likely to cause rib fractures or spinal fractures due to improper usage of the seat belts.

 

 "I always sit in the back seat, so I don't need to wear my seat belt."

You can be seriously hurt if you are thrown from a back seat onto other passengers. You could slide across the seat forcing another unbelted person out a window or door, or the impact of another person against you could push you out. Remember, Princess Diana, who was killed in a vehicle crash, was in the back seat and not wearing a seat belt.

 

 

"I might be saved if I'm thrown clear of the car in an accident."

The fact is that your chances of being killed are almost 25 times greater if you're thrown from the car. The forces in a collision can be great enough to fling you as much as 150 feet--about 15 car lengths.

Safety belts keep you from: Plunging through the windshield, being thrown out the door and hurtled through the air, scraping along the ground, and being crushed by your own car. In almost any collision, you're better off being held inside the car by safety belts.

 

 

 "If I wear a safety belt, I might be trapped in a burning or submerged vehicle!"

Less than one-half of one percent of all injury-producing collisions involve fire or submersion. But if fire or submersion does occur, wearing a safety belt can save your life.

If you're involved in a crash without your safety belt, you might be stunned or knocked unconscious by striking the interior of the car. Then your chances of getting out of a burning or submerged car would be far less. You're better off wearing a safety belt at all times in a car. With safety belts, you're more likely to be unhurt, alert and capable of escaping quickly.

 

 

"My vehicle has an airbag. I don't need to use the seat belt."

Although an airbag may help protect an unrestrained person in a vehicle crash, it is designed as a Supplemental Restraint System and should be used in conjunction with seat belts. Airbags do not replace seat belts.

An airbag is deployed at approximately 200 mph; in less than 1/25th of a second. During pre-crash braking, an unrestrained passenger may be thrown against the dashboard or steering column area, in immediate proximity to an air bag. Persons who are in the path of the airbag's area of deployment at the time it's inflated may receive serious or fatal injuries. Your vehicle's seat belts will help keep you in place so that your airbag can be effective in cushioning the impact of your collision.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the combination of an air bag in addition to a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of serious head injury by 81 percent, compared with 60 percent reduction for belts alone.

 

"It's OK for my pre-teen children to ride in the front seat even though I have passenger side airbags."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that at least 99 children have been killed or injured by the force of a deploying airbag. In many cases, the children were riding in the front seat either in a rear-facing child safety seat or "out of position", either unbuckled, or not wearing the shoulder portion of the safety belt. With or without an airbag, statistics show that the safest place for children to ride is the back seat. General rule: No one under 13 years of age should ride in the front seat, especially if the vehicle has airbags.

 

"It's nobody's business but my own if I don't wear my seat belt. The seat belt laws are a violation of my constitutional rights."

Your decision not to buckle up effects us all. The people who fasten their seat belts are paying for those who don't. According to the National Safety Council the inpatient costs to treat an unbelted crash victim are at least 50 percent or higher than those for belted victims. Society pays by the increase in health care costs and automobile insurance premiums and through public assistance programs.

Furthermore, if you do not wear a seat belt and you are a passenger in a vehicle with other persons, you will increase the likelihood that the other persons will be injured by your unrestrained body crashing against them. Don't be selfish; buckle up!