Two seconds is all it takes to save your life: reach, pull, buckle. This act could not be simpler, yet the seat belt statistics continue to be disheartening. Last year’s national average seat belt use was 87%, ranging from 68.7% in South Dakota to 98.2% in Oregon.
The reasons cited for not wearing seat belt range from, “they wrinkle my clothes,” to, “I don’t think the government has the right to tell me I have to.” Whether it is pragmatism or principles guiding the rejection of the safety belt, they are excuses that pale in comparison to the lifesaving properties of the seat belt. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts are the single most effective traffic safety device for preventing death and injury.
During 4th of July weekend in 2013, approximately 2/3 of all vehicle occupants killed in collisions within the California Highway Patrol’s jurisdiction were not buckled up.
When people—especially young ones—die in preventable crashes, the ripple effect is immense. It is not just their family and friends who feel the impact, but also the entire community, including the brave first responders who experience the trauma altogether too often. Impact Teen Drivers’ number one goal is to stop preventable deaths from car crashes. The first component of that is empowering individuals to make the conscious commitment to safe driving to minimize the chances of getting in a crash in the first place; the second component of that: seat belts. If a crash does occur, we want people to maximize their chances of survival.
About half the people who died in fatal car crashes last year would still be alive today had they made the decision to wear their seat belt. Role model good driving behaviors. Lose the excuse. Remember to belt up every ride. It is that simple to keep twice as many people alive.