It’s 2018, and believe it or not, a lot of people still aren’t fastening their seat belts every time they get in a car. We mean a LOT of people.
Not only that, but many parents neglect to put their little ones in the right car seat or booster. Or some do, but they don’t secure them properly.
Here’s the thing: Driving or riding in a motor vehicle without the proper safety restraints can be dangerous—even deadly. How dangerous exactly? To answer that, we’ve rounded up some facts and figures about seat belts and car seats, as well as how they’re used in the US.
Brace yourself (literally).
Seat Belt Facts
According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), only 89.7 percent of all motor vehicle occupants regularly used a seat belt in 2017. That’s actually down from 90.1 percent in 2016.
Think about that for a minute. With a total U.S. population of about 325 million, that means approximately 33.4 million people aren’t wearing seat belts on American roads, or about one out of ten.
What’s the problem, you ask? According to the NHTSA’s latest data, in 2015 there were 35,092 people killed in car crashes. Of those, 48 percent weren’t wearing seat belts. In addition, 80 percent of all passenger vehicle occupants who were thrown from a car during an accident (usually due to not wearing a seat belt or not wearing one properly) died.
In that same year, NHTSA estimates that seat belts saved 13,941 lives, and another 2,804 people could have been saved if everyone had simply buckled up.
You might be thinking, “What about airbags? Don’t those do anything?” Yes, they do, but they’re not enough on their own. Airbags are designed to work together with seat belts to protect you in a crash. In fact, the force of a rapidly opening airbag could injure or even kill you if you’re not wearing your seat belt.
Guidelines for safety:
- Always buckle up, even if you’re only going for a short drive
- Always place the lap strap over your lap (not your stomach)
- Always place the shoulder strap over the middle of your chest (not your neck)
- Never put the shoulder strap under your arm or behind your back
- Always make sure everyone else in your car is properly buckled up, too
Car Seats and Boosters
According to the NHTSA, children’s car seats were used incorrectly in 59 percent of all cases in 2015.
What’s the big deal? The big deal is that out of all children 13 and under who died in a car accident that year, 35 percent of them were improperly restrained.
NHTSA also estimates that about 248 children under the age of 5 were saved by car seats in 2015.
You may be wondering, “How do I know which car seat to use for my child?” or, “ How do I properly install my child’s car seat?
For more information on this topic, we recommend you take a look at this website. NHTSA also has some detailed instructions on how to install your child’s car seat and where to go to have it inspected for safety. If in doubt, always follow the instructions that come with your car seat or booster, as well as the guidelines outlined in the owner’s manual of your vehicle.
Don’t Forget to Drive Covered
Hopefully you never get in an accident, but if it ever happens to you, you’ll be glad you purchased reliable auto insurance beforehand. The right auto insurance policy can help pay for injuries you or your loved ones might experience in a car crash, as well as damage to property.