We’ve visited this topic before, but we continue to be appalled at the number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents who were not using seat belts or child restraints.
According to a tally by State Troopers over the Christmas and New Year holidays, 17 people were killed in accidents on Alabama highways, and 75 percent of them were not using restraints that might have saved their lives.
Since that tally came out, Troopers have reported five more fatalities in highway accidents. Three of them reportedly were not wearing seat belts; reports did not specify whether the other two were.
If there were a cost involved, it might be understandable that people choose not to buckle up, but there’s not a cost. They’re right there next to you when you get in the vehicle.
No safety measure is 100 percent effective, but wearing a seat belt is the cheapest and most effective means we have of preventing deaths, injuries and pain on our highways.
The death toll on our roads is horrendous. The Alabama Department of Public Health says motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people in our state between the ages of 1 and 34. If you are a typical driver in Alabama, there is a 54.1 percent probability that you will be involved in a crash with an injury or a fatality while driving an automobile at some point in your lifetime.
So make a resolution, develop a new habit. If you’re going farther than the end of your driveway or parking lot, fasten the seat belt.
State Trooper statistics from 1971-2009 show more than 1,000 people, on average, die on Alabama streets and highways every year.
More of those lives would be saved, and injuries would be less severe, if all drivers and passengers were properly restrained.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says front-seat passenger car occupants reduce their risk of fatal injury by 45 percent when they use their seat belts. We like those odds.
The NHTSA estimates child restraints saved 425 lives nationwide in 2006, and air bags saved 2,796 lives that same year. But seat belts were the champions when it came to saving lives. They prevented 15,383 deaths that year, and similarly high numbers every other year statistics are available.
Most driving, and most accidents, occur within 25 miles of home, so it’s best to put on the belt on every trip, not just on longer highway drives.
Studies indicate 80-84 percent of drivers and passengers in most parts of the country are buckling up already. Out west it’s closer to 93 percent. Those are good numbers, but they still leave room for improvement.
You can get a ticket for not wearing a seat belt, but don’t buckle up because it’s the law. Do yourself a favor, and buckle up because it just makes sense.