Seat belts work to save lives

Seat belts work to save lives

Seat belts work to save lives

Last week, Nevada Highway Patrol responded to the scene of vehicle rollover crash on I-80 between Winnemucca and Battle Mountain. The investigation that followed turned out to be a classic proof of the value of using seatbelts.

A family of five was traveling on the highway in a full-size SUV. In one of the single-vehicle accidents that are so common on long stretches of Nevada highway, the SUV left the roadway and traveled into the median, where it rolled over.

According to officials with the Nevada Highway Patrol, the mom and dad of the family were in the front seat and were not injured; both were wearing seatbelts. Two children in the middle row, age two and three, were in rear-facing child safety seats and they were not injured. Two more children, age four and six, were riding in the third row in forward-facing child safety seats and they were not injured.

“This rollover occurred at interstate speeds, 75 miles per hour and yet, no one was injured,” said NHP Trooper Jim Stewart. “If these family members had not been wearing seatbelts, this might have been a tragic crash resulting in multiple fatalities.”

Stewart, in plea to the media, said, “Please let the public know that seatbelts work; they do prevent injuries and fatalities.”

The statistics back up Stewart’s statement.

Single-vehicle roll-over accidents make up some 30 percent of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities.

Nearly 80 percent of people thrown from a vehicle during a roll-over were fatally injured, according to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.) Only one percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were buckled up were ejected from their vehicles, while 31 percent of occupants who were thrown from the vehicle were not wearing seatbelts.

Although seatbelt use is one of the easiest and most effective ways to save lives and prevent injuries and although the national use rate is now 90.1 percent — millions still do not buckle up on every trip. Nearly half of all motor vehicle crash fatalities, 48 percent, involved people who were not wearing seat belts.

Another important piece of information involves air bags. Air bags are not enough to protect vehicle occupants in a crash. In fact, the force of an air bag can seriously injure or even kill a person who is not buckled up, according to NHTSA. Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not to replace them.

It’s also important to wear a seat belt the way it is intended to be worn. Improper use, such as putting the strap under the arm, makes the seatbelt much less effective.