By: Road Safety
Motor crashes remain the leading cause of unintentional injury related deaths among children ages 14 and under. However, the wearing of seatbelts could prevent many of these deaths and serious injuries. Thus, over the last 30years, it is conservatively estimated that in highly motorized countries over 310,000 fatalities and more that 9million moderate to critical injuries have been prevented through wearing of seatbelts. Even in a safety conscious country such as the United State of America, failure to wear their seatbelts has let to avoidable deaths and injuries among teens and adults who died were unrestrained as at the time of the crash.
Seatbelts of course, do not prevent an accident-taking place. They do however play a crucial role in reducing the severity of injury to vehicle occupants involved in an accident.As I told you earlier, vehicle safety features are distinguished by two categories; “primary safety and secondary safety”. The effectiveness of the use of seatbelts is no longer in doubt as studies conducted throughout the world since the 1950’s have shown conclusively that seatbelt when worn and fitted correctly, save lives. Users of safety belts sustain approximately 35percent less ‘major-fatal’ grade injuries than did non-users. Another study by nordisk trafiksikker hedsrad (1984) calculated that ‘drivers and front seat passengers who do not use seatbelts suffer almost the same percentage of head injuries as non-users in rear seats’. Therefore, use of seatbelt by rear seat passengers could not only reduce the likelihood and severity of injury to themselves, but also to drivers and/or front seat passengers.
Statistics from traffic management agencies and groups in developed countries reveal percentage of severity of injuries of deaths resulting from non-use of seatbelts in the event of a crash or a sudden stop. In the United Kingdom, a quarter of people who died in crashes in 2017, were not wearing a seatbelt. The report shows that despite wearing rates of 98.6percent for car drivers, 27percent of those who died in cars on the roads in 2017 were not wearing a seatbelt. This amounts to more than 200 deaths; an additional 1,000 people were seriously injured. Robert Gifford, of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety charity, said seatbelts had saved 35,000 lives in the UK during the last 25 years although there are concerns that usage is waning.
The story is similar in the United States where the national use rate was 90.7percent in 2019. Seat belt usage in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017.Of the 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, 47% were not wearing seat belts. In 2017 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they had been wearing seat belts. In the province of Ontario, Canada, 42 people who were not wearing seatbelts died in 2015 compared to 34 2014 in the same time frame.
Always remember that there are consequences for not wearing, or improperly wearing, a seat belt; buckling up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle, whereas not buckling up can result in being ejected from the vehicle in a crash. It should be noted that airbags are not enough to protect you; in fact, the force of an air bag can seriously injure or even kill you if you are not buckled up. Secondly, improperly wearing a seat belt such as putting the strap below your arm puts you at greater risk in a crash. Nigeria may not have the sophisticated data bank on this as at today, as the afore-mentioned countries, but fact remains that deaths and permanent injuries are occurring due to non-use of seat belts.
Since January, 1st, 2003, when the Federal Road Safety Corps launched enforcement on the use of the seat belt nationwide seat belt usage has become a norm. Although, the initial focus was on front seat occupants the Corps has since extended usage to all occupants of a vehicles in keeping with increased risk factors associated with non-use. Thus, the advantages of seatbelt use for ALL occupants of the vehicle cannot be over-emphasized.
The following is a piece I culled from a safety article from the Oklahoma State University, and I’d like to present it just as it was written: Imagine running as fast as you can – into a wall. You’d expect to get pretty banged up. Do you think you could stop yourself if the wall suddenly loomed up when you were two feet away from it? This is exactly the situation you face when the front of your car hits something at only 15 miles an hour. The car stops in the first tenth of a second, but you keep on at the same rate you were going in the car until something stops you – the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield – if you’re not wearing your safety belt… Bad enough at 15 miles an hour, but at 30 miles you hit “the wall” four times as hard as you would at 15. Or to put it another way, with the same impact you’d feel as if you fell three stories.
A properly worn safety belt keeps that second collision – the human collision – from happening. Quite revealing and frightening, you might say. Now, the reasons I hear people give for not using seatbelt is also quite revealing and interesting. They go like this: “I can’t have a crash, I’m a good driver”. But a bad driver could crash into you. Or you could have a sudden stop. “They’re so uncomfortable”. Wouldn’t you rather be uncomfortable than be endangered? “The belt will trap me”. Little chance of that happening. And the best place to be during a crash is in your car. If you’re thrown out of a car, you’re 25 times more likely to die. And if you need to get out in a hurry, in the event of fire or other danger, you stand a better chance of doing that when you’re conscious and not knocked out inside the car.