I’m not hearing much about seatbelt use lately. Is that because it’s the law and usage is so high? How much difference do they make when you’re in an accident?
I’d like to tell you that everyone is wearing a seatbelt, however, according to a national study, the U.S. has one of the lowest rates of seat belt usage among developed nations in that only 72%-88% of Americans buckle up, depending on the study. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45%, and risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%. For those riding in the rear of vans and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) during a crash, rear seat belts are 73% better at preventing fatalities. That is a huge difference—knowing that if most of the 20,000+ people who died in a vehicle in 2014 wore their seat belts, they would still be alive today.
According to research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), while 88.5% of passenger vehicle occupants buckled up in 2015, almost 50% of occupants of fatal crashes nationwide are not restrained. In Massachusetts, 60% of those killed on the roads were not using seatbelts; and in New Hampshire, 78% of those killed on the road were unrestrained. This fact gravely highlights the need for increased enforcement and awareness of seat belt use.
As a country, we could be doing better and that is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in conjunction with local law enforcement, sponsors the “Click it or Ticket.” Campaign from May 23-June 5. This enforcement period comes ahead of the Memorial Day holiday, one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, according to the NHTSA.
One of the reasons the law is less effective in Massachusetts is because it’s a secondary offense, meaning you cannot be stopped only for that reason. If you’re stopped for another violation and not wearing your seatbelt, you will be fined for not wearing your seatbelt. New Hampshire is the only state in the U.S. that does not have a seatbelt law for adults—just children. This adds new meaning to the state’s slogan: “Live Free or Die.” (N.H. is also one of only three states with no motorcycle helmet law either.) When it comes to riding in a vehicle or on a motorcycle, not wearing a seatbelt and/or a helmet is taking a significant risk as shown by the statistics.
During the nighttime hours of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., the number of fatalities increases, while the number wearing seatbelts decreases. Law enforcement agencies will seek opportunities to stop those not buckled up, even if just to write a warning citation, with a zero-tolerance approach. Part of the “Click It or Ticket” campaign will focus on bucking up at night.
So please, from all of us at Jaffarian Volvo Toyota, buckle up day and night. We want you to return home safely every time you go for a drive, whether it is around the corner or across the region.