The Importance Of Wearing Seat Belts When Traveling
For drivers and passengers, seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries. Yet millions do not buckle up on every trip.
According to NHTSA, a total of 22,697 drivers and passengers in passenger vehicles died in motor vehicle crashes in 2018. More than half of those fatalities were not buckled up at the time of the crash. Many drivers and passengers are injured or killed in a crash when struck by others sitting behind who are not wearing seat belts. Exposure to unbelted occupants increases the risk of injury or death to other occupants in the vehicle by 40 percent (MacLennan et al., 2004).
According to NHTSA , more than 2.2 million drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments due to being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2018. Young adult drivers and passengers (18-24) have the highest crash-related non-fatal injury rates of all adults.
The consequences of failing to properly wear seat belts can not only be tragic for the victims; they can be horrific for those who witness the consequences.
- Not buckling up can result in occupants being totally ejected from the vehicle in a crash, which is almost always deadly. Occupants ejected in non-rollover crashes are nearly twice as likely to die. Those who are ejected in rollover crashes are four times more likely to die (NHTSA, 2010).
- Airbags are not enough to protect occupants; in fact, the force of an airbag can seriously injure or even kill if occupants if they are not buckled up.
- Improperly wearing a seat belt, such as putting the strap below the arm, puts occupants at risk of increased injury in a crash.
For more information about the use of seat belts in your state, see the CDC’s Buckle Up: Restraint Use State Fact Sheets.