“Click it or Ticket” has become a familiar refrain in Virginia and across the United States. Here is a rundown of recent reports suggesting that seat belts really do save lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 states currently have primary enforcement seat belt laws for all seats in the car. This means that a driver can be pulled over and ticketed if he or any of his passengers are not properly restrained. The CDC estimates that over 80 percent of people use seat belts. Still, more than half of all teens and adults who died in car crashes in 2015 were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. Research has shown that seat belt use reduces collision deaths and injuries by about 50 percent.
As the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles describes, seat belts are most effective when everyone in the car is wearing one. Back seat passengers are 60 percent less likely to die in a collision when they are buckled in. Choosing not to wear a seat belt can have an impact on others in the car, too. Back seat riders who are not buckled in double the risk of driver deaths when they are thrown from their seats in a crash.
There can also be heavy financial costs when not everyone wears their seat belt. Drivers in Virginia can be ticketed when their passengers do not use seat belts. Some insurance companies refuse to cover the costs of injury or death of passengers who were not wearing seat belts at the time of an accident.
Seat belts are safest when worn properly. The DMV recommends that shoulder belts be worn across the chest and that lap belts should fit against hips, not the stomach. Airbags should always be used in conjunction with seat belts.