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People consider cars to be a comfortable and safe method of transportation. However, car accidents have become one of the major causes of death and injury in the modern world. Contemporary cars have numerous tools in place to protect people during traffic accidents, including airbags and seatbelts. Using a seatbelt can save a person’s life in the most dangerous situations, but many people still refuse or forget to wear a seatbelt. As this presentation will seek to show, driving with a seatbelt is much safer, and people should wear it every time they are in a car.
Statistics on traffic accidents highlight the dangers of cars as a means of transportation. Based on the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2017), traffic accidents are the main cause of death among people under the age of 30. Each year, over 2 million people seek emergency aid in hospitals following a car accident (CDC, 2017). A significant share of injuries is serious or even fatal. In 2016, 37,461 people were killed in car accidents, and the fatality rate per 100,000 of the population was 11.06 (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2018). Between 2002 and 2011, over 9,000 children died in motor vehicle crashes, and one-third of them were not wearing a seatbelt (CDC, 2017). The total economic cost of motor vehicle crashes is $242 billion, and seatbelt nonuse contributes at least $10.4 billion to this estimate (U.S. DOT, 2018). Consequently, people who forget to use seatbelts or do not use them intentionally contribute both to the economic costs of vehicle crashes and to fatality and injury rates.
Seatbelts and Protection
Seatbelts protect people in a car by restraining the body and preventing the person from moving inside the car. This helps to ensure that the person is protected from falling out and that they can benefit from the airbags, which are located in specific places next to the seats. By not wearing a seatbelt, a person risks hurting themselves more on impact, which leads to an increased chance of death or severe injury. Based on the estimates of the U.S. Department of Transportation (2018), wearing a seatbelt helped to save 14,668 people aged five and older in 2016. This means that consistent use of seatbelts could reduce fatality and injury rates from motor vehicle crashes.
Seatbelts and the Law
In many states, people who do not wear seatbelts face not only health risks but also legal and financial charges. As reported by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA, 2019), “34 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have primary seat belt laws for front-seat occupants” (para. 1). Seatbelt use among rear-seat passengers is also enforced in 30 U.S. states, District Columbia, and two territories through either primary or secondary laws (GHSA, 2019). Some states also have specific laws that enforce seat belt use for children and young adults. Failing to abide by these laws can result in fines, reduced insurance payments, and more serious consequences if the offense is repeated.
Overall, car accidents are dangerous for drivers and passengers alike, and they contribute to deaths among people in the United States and all over the globe. Protection tools, including seatbelts, can reduce the risk of serious injury and thus help to save lives. Wearing a seatbelt at all times is also necessary to avoid fines and decreased insurance payouts following a traffic accident. By not wearing a seatbelt, people risk their lives and health and contribute to the financial burden of motor vehicle crashes.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Motor vehicle injuries. Web.
Governors Highway Safety Association. (2019). State laws by issue – Seat belts. Web.
U.S. Department of Transportation. (2018). Summary of motor vehicle crashes. Web.