Seat Belts Save Thousands of Lives

Closeup of young man fastening seat belt in the car

Buckle up. The life you save may be your own. Thanks to mandatory seat belt laws in the vast majority of jurisdictions, drivers and passengers are more likely to wear seat belts now than they ever have been.

In 2000, drivers used seat belts about 79% of the time. Today, that number is over 90%. Every state in the country now has some type of mandatory seat belt use law except New Hampshire – and all 50 states and the District of Columbia have child safety seat laws.

That said some people still don’t buckle up.

Seat belt use saves lives

Don’t think seat belts save lives? Consider the following from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute:

  • Using a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 45% for drivers and passengers in passenger vehicles.
  • Using a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of fatal injury in a crash for drivers and front passengers of SUVs and vans by 60% .
  • Today, drivers use seat belts about 90% of the time. But if everyone used seat belts all the time, on every trip, another 2,800 lives would have been saved.
  • The number of lives saved due to seat belt use has been consistently over 12,000 per year every year since at least 2010.
Grim statistics
  • The risks of not wearing a seat belt are too great as the following data from the institute illustrate:
  • Unbelted passengers are 30 times more likely to be thrown from a car from a car in an accident than belted passengers.
  • If you are thrown from a moving car in an accident, you have only a 1 in 4 chance of surviving.
  • Unrestrained passengers in a crash at just 30 miles per hour are thrown forward with a force equal to up to 60 times their own body weight.
Survival tips
  • Heed the following tips, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, to safeguard yourself, your passengers and family:
  • Air bags also save lives, but they are not a substitute for seat belts. Buckle up, even if you have air bags.
  • Lead by example. Studies have shown that if one passenger or the driver buckles his or her seat belt, other passengers are more likely to follow suit.
  • Children ages 12 and under should sit in the back seat, properly buckled up.
  • Place children in the middle of the back seat, if possible. Statistically, it is the safest spot in the vehicle.
  • Never place a rear-facing child seat in front of an air bag.
  • Use the seat, booster or belt appropriate for your child’s age and size.
  • Drivers and vehicle owners should insist all passengers wear seat belts, even on short trips.

Pay close attention to rear seat passengers. Studies show that rear seat passengers are 10% more likely to neglect to wear their seat belts. But rear seat passengers made up 26% of motor vehicle accident passenger deaths in 2012