Safety devices are very important to use in our everyday lives, especially when we’re behind the wheel. Despite all the technological advancements that have been made over the years to motor vehicle safety, none of them are as critically important to consistently use than a seat belt is.
In fact, the simple act of buckling up before every ride is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of serious injury or fatality during a crash. Just as airbags are designed to protect drivers and passengers from severe injuries, seat belts are designed to protect drivers and passengers in the same way.
Looking at safety belt statistics through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), safety belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and fatalities by about half. Further, as of 2019, the act of buckling up was at 90.7 percent throughout the country. Although that number is significant, it still doesn’t account for every driver that gets behind the wheel, or the passengers that hop in along the way.
Although drivers and passengers know the importance of wearing a seat belt, millions of people are still reluctant to buckle up before every trip, but why?
Here are the five common myths about seat belt safety that could be hindering those 10 percent of drivers from buckling up for every ride.
Five common myths about buckling up
1: Seat belts are uncomfortable.
Although seat belts can sometimes feel uncomfortable or restricting, they aren’t meant to be. If seat belts are adjusted correctly, they shouldn’t cause discomfort or restriction to drivers or passengers.
In fact, there have been various design advancements to seat belts to make them more comfortable. Even so, seat belts are meant to keep you and your passengers safe from dangerous situations that could occur while traveling in your car. In order to keep everyone truly safe, your best and only option is to buckle up.
2: I don’t always have time to put on my seat belt.
All drivers, no matter the time crunch they may be facing, have two to three seconds to spare in order to buckle up. It takes more time to turn your car on or even tie your shoe than to put on your seat belt.
Even if you have multiple commutes to various places during the day, you certainly have a few seconds to protect yourself by buckling up. No matter the time constraint, it’s always important to buckle up before hitting the road.
3: I don’t need to use a seat belt for a short ride.
Even if you’re driving down the street to go to your local convenience store and are confident in your driving abilities, that doesn’t account for the other drivers. Although it can seem harmless to not buckle up for a short ride, that choice can be deceivingly dangerous.
Statistically speaking, the NHTSA states that most traffic-related fatalities happen within 25 miles from a driver’s home at a speed of 40 mph or less. Your best bet to keep you and your passengers safe is to buckle up every time.
4: Seat belts trap you during a collision.
This myth is especially related to those accidents that are water-and fire-related. However, these types of accidents rarely occur. In severe accidents such as these, seatbelts help protect drivers and passengers from being knocked unconscious, which could be the difference between life or death. No matter the drive or the situation – buckling up is the only way to keep you and your passengers safe.
5: Airbags can protect me, with or without using a seat belt.
Airbags are designed to work in tandem with seat belts to help prevent catastrophic injuries. However, airbags cannot protect drivers and passengers who are not buckled up. In fact, getting into a car accident where an airbag deploys and no seat belts are worn can cause a rider to sustain much more serious injuries than if a seat belt had been worn.
Airbags only deploy in moderate to severe collisions, which doesn’t cover every type of car accident. Therefore, in order to truly protect yourself and others, it’s best to buckle up for every ride.
The bottom line: Seat belts save lives.
When it comes to these five myths on buckling up, it’s important to define them solely as myths and not seat belt facts. Although newer makes and models of cars can include the latest safety innovations such as back-up cameras or lane-departure systems, these innovations alone, will not protect you and your loved ones from sustaining severe injuries as the result of a collision.
Living in such a technologically advanced world can make it easy to not buckle up before every ride. However, one ride without being protected by a seat belt can mean the difference between a collision where you walk away without a scratch or a collision where you sustain catastrophic injuries.
Bottom line – seat belts save lives. As we begin to enter into the warmer months of the year, please buckle up, drive safely and enjoy the road ahead!