Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Looking Again At Seat Belt Safety – They Really Work!
Seat belts are the main protection for passengers if they are involved in a car accident. Auto accident lawyers point out that many states, including Texas, have instituted seat belt laws over the last decade, making it against the law to ride without wearing a seatbelt. Lawyers who handle car accident claims for their clients stress the safety aspect of seat belt use, as seat belts have been proven to save lives. Injury claim attorneys have seen first hand the effectiveness of seat belts in reducing the severity of injuries in major car accidents.
Seat Belts and Accident Safety
The overwhelming evidence based on many years of crash statistics shows that seat belts save lives. The NHTSA shows that in 2014 alone, 21,022 people were killed in auto accidents in the United States.1 Of those fatalities, more than half were unrestrained people between 13 to 19 years of age or 20 to 44 years of age, populations that do not always use seat belts according to studies on seat belt usage. Based on research done using extensive crash data, it is estimated that seat belts reduced auto accident fatalities by about half, saving as many as 12,802 lives.2
Laws And Seat Belt Effectiveness
Air bags have proven to help reduce injuries in car accidents; however, seat belts alone are clearly much more effective. Interestingly, the type of seat belt law in effect has been shown to greatly affect seat belt effectiveness. In states with primary seat belt laws that allow police to stop drivers simple because they did not wear a seat belt, crash statistics show compliance as high as 91% with a similar reduction in fatalities. States with secondary seat belt laws that allow ticketing only if a driver is pulled over for some other offense have only an estimated 79% compliance, with correspondingly higher accident fatalities Such reports suggest that seat belts do save lives and can reduce the severity of injuries sustained in car accidents.
Seat Belt Laws in Texas
Texas has primary seat belt laws that allow law enforcement to stop any driver for not wearing a seatbelt or for allowing passengers to not wear seat belts, which can result in being fined for such action. The State also instituted a backseat seat belt law in 2009, which states that passengers in the back seat must wear seat belts or use appropriate car safety seats and belts if the passengers are children. Drivers can be fined up to $250.00 plus court costs for failure to observe these laws.
Based on the research done by the CDC,2 the NHTSA,1 and other safety organizations, car accident lawyers suggest that the evidence is clear. Seat belts save lives and help reduce the severity of injuries sustained in car accidents. All Texas drivers and passengers should be properly restrained with the right seat belts to reduce injuries if involved in an auto accident. Injury claim attorneys also warn that lack of proper restraint could become a consideration in accident injury cases, especially in states with primary seat belt laws like Texas. Rather than risk the injury, or the possibility of a reduced settlement in an accident claim, lawyers suggest the simplest answer of all - buckle up!