Roadsign - Seatbelt

Roadsign – Seatbelt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seat belts have the capacity of saving many lives day after day. However, many people decide not to wear it when driving. This might be a big mistake because you may receive a ticket since it is the law to buckle up, or worst scenario, you will die! There is no doubt in my mind that we must trust to buckle up!

In fact, everyone should use the seat belt when in a vehicle, including the rear passengers. According to the article written by BMC Public Health (2008):Wearing a seat belt in the rear seats is considered effective not only to protect the rear seat passengers, but also to reduce the injuries and fatal consequences to front seat occupants. It has been estimated that the risk of a front seat occupant being killed in a frontal impact increases by about three-quarters if there is an unrestrained passenger in the seat behind them. (BMC Public Health, 2008)

With this estimation, it should be clear how important it is for everyone in the car to use a seat belt when in a vehicle, whether front or back.

According to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), seatbelt use in 2011 was estimated at 84 percent, which basically did not change since 2010 with a percentage of 85 then. These statistics are only based in the United States, but regardless, these statistics provide the only nationwide probability-based observational survey of seat belt use. Thus, providing the population at large an estimate of how much seatbelt usage has increased based on other years–or in this sad case, how it decreases.

Another important statistic about seat-belt use is the one illustrating the increase of lives saved. In this case, the National Safety Council stated that seat belts saved more than 75,000 lives from 2004 to 2008. But, unfortunately, some people still do not buckle up. According to the same article, “forty-two percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2007 were unbelted.” If this figure went down to 10%, “a 2009 NHTSA study estimates more than 1,600 lives could be saved and 22,000 injuries prevented if seat belt use was 90 percent in every state.”

True, I am spitting out statistics that mean nothing. What make these statistics meaningful to me is the fact that I had a close-encounter with what happens when you don’t buckle up. I will never forget the day my mom, my sister, and I were in the house having lunch, when suddenly someone knocked on the door. It was a policeman, and the only thing he asked was “Are you Alicia Rojas?”

“Yes,” my mom responded, “how can I help you?”

Even though we all knew it was not good when a policeman came knocking on our door, she stayed calm. The police continued, “I feel so sorry having to give you this news mam. Your husband just had a car accident and is in the Jackson Memorial Hospital.”

That was the only information they gave us. Unfortunately, police are only allowed to give a general statement and no specifics, which is extremely inhuman when you are experiencing the predicament. Without a choice of asking for more details, we all ran to the hospital, and guess what? The first thing that blurted out of the people that greeted us was that my dad was not wearing his seat belt and flew out of the car. Even though he was in extremely critical condition for a long time, he was one of the lucky ones that lived; however, he could have died and left me father-less.

It is true that in my opinion, everyone should wear a seatbelt, yet I remain open to the fact that at times seatbelts do not save lives. Why? All accidents are different, and in some cases people are trapped in their cars by seatbelt use. For this reason, some people die when their cars explode because they couldn’t abandon the car in time. For example, my father-in-law died because he used his seatbelt. During a crash, his seat belt jammed; he could not get out of the car. In a matter of minutes, his car exploded. He died on the scene.

In brief, seat belts can either be the cause of someone’s death or someone’s miracle. However, in most cases, according to statistics, there have been more miracles thanks to the use of seat belts, rather than deaths. Because of this, everyone should trust in buckling up!

References

BMC Public Health.  (2008, July). Seat belt use among rear passengers: validity of self-reported versus observational measures. Retrieved from

          www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/8/233

Seat Belt Use Overall Results. (2011, December). Retrieved from

          www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811544.pdf

The National Safety Council. Retrieved from

          www.nsc.org/safety_road/driversafety/pages/seatbelts.aspx

Can safety regulations kill you? How safe are seatbelts and seatbelt laws? (2009, June).     Retrieved from

          www.dbskeptic.com/2009/06/21/can-safety-regulations-kill-you-how

safe-are-seabelts-and-seatbelt-laws/

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