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A simple step to safer travel

The USA Today has reported that more than 35,000 people died in car accidents in the U.S. in 2016. This number represents a spike in deaths from motor vehicle collisions and leaves drivers in Illinois wondering what they can do to protect themselves on the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has answered that question directly. “From 2011 to 2015,” the NHTSA reports, “seat belts saved nearly 64,000 lives.” Buckling up is one of the simplest steps both drivers and passengers can take to enhance their safety in vehicles. While the NHTSA does not pretend to offer guarantees a seat belt will keep every individual safe in every mishap on the road, the organization does provide solid evidence that being buckled adds a layer of protection.

One of the primary justifications is the simple fact that seat belts keep motorists in automobiles during crashes. Modern designs emphasize safety features such as air bags and crumple zones; however, those components can do little to protect someone a collision’s impact throws from the car. The NHTSA has noted the survival rate for ejected occupants in the U.S. hovered around 20 percent in 2015.

In addition, in 2015 fatalities where the crash did not cause individuals to eject from their vehicles, 48 percent of motorists who remained in their cars but had not buckled up died as a result of their injuries. Indifference toward seat belts cost nearly 3,000 lives that year. 

The NHTSA encourages drivers and passengers alike to buckle up and gives some guidelines for motorists of all ages:

  • Make a habit of putting seat belts on as soon as everyone gets in the car, and teach children to do the same.
  • Remember not to rely only on air bags for safety; buckling up adds protection.
  • Be sure seat belts in family vehicles fit well. Automotive dealers can adjust any that are too tight or too loose. 

The belt should cross the middle of the chest and the hips. It should not cross the neck or the stomach or go under the arm. 

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