Seat Belt Use-Best Roadway Safety Measure

Wear Your Seat Belt!!

We are in the busiest driving season of the year. The number one safety measure you can take on the roadway to avoid car crash injuries is to wear your seat belt. While you cannot control the driving behaviors of others, you can account for yourself. You can follow the rules of road, avoid distracted driving, avoid drunk driving and WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT.

Yes, we repeat the importance of seat belts, a lot. No, we are not saying they save every car crash victim from death or injury. Seat belts increase your odds of surviving a crash by 45% in a car and it is even higher in a pick up truck.

Seat belts keep you in the vehicle. Occupant ejection accidents are really notable because of their high fatality rate. According to the NHTSA, 81 percent of occupants who were totally ejected from the vehicle were killed in the crash or shortly thereafter. (Note: partial ejections is often as devastating as a total ejection and we will spare the graphic descriptions) Thus, being restrained IN the vehicle greatly increases your chances of surviving a car accident. After review of several years of crash data from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, we see that Missourians remain obstinate or forgetful about buckling up when in a vehicle. It is devastating. Missourians continue to have a lower seat belt usage rate than the national average of 90.4 %.

Not Just Numbers

It may all seem like just statistics, but when it is a loved one or a friend, one fatality is too many. Fifty-one percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in the US in 2020 were unrestrained. Since there were 23,824 fatalities, imagine what we could do to change that number in the future. Seat belts saved an estimated 14,95 lives and could have saved an additional 2,549 people.

We are information of so many serious injuries in motor vehicle crashes daily, and yet, seat belt usage in Missouri has not increased. Instead, the rate of seat belt usage may have declined slightly in the last two years. Seat belts reduce your risk of moderate to serious injury by 50%, and even higher reduction rate if in a pick up truck.

Our firm sees the consequences and tragic aftermath of motor vehicle crashes. We represent those injured and worse in preventable crashes (99% are preventable). In every serious injury or fatal crash, we get to know our clients and their families during a time of their lives which is often their worst. We are honored to do so. It is incredibly difficult when remaining family members anguish over the “what might have been” and “what if they were wearing a seat belt?” Those are sobering questions for loved ones and those seriously injured. If we could take away just a small portion of that anguish for anyone else, it would be this simple advice—wear a seat belt Every Time You Get Into a Vehicle. If you don’t think of yourself, think of your family and friends.

Our clients are both restrained and unrestrained occupants. We’ve never had an injured client that said they wish they were not wearing a seat belt. However, the opposite is true. We all know that riding in a motor vehicle is one of the riskiest things we do on a daily basis. If there is only one thing that you do to improve your road safety, it is to wear a seat belt every time. Whether you are driving a short distance or cross country, wearing a seat belt is a must. Yet, too many people are still failing to buckle up.

Over 20 years of representing those injured or families of those killed in crashes, we know we cannot control other driver’s choices but we can control whether or not we wear a seat belt.

Set An Example

As the driver of a motor vehicle, you set the example for others in your vehicle. If you are driving, you want all of your passengers to make it safely to the destination–it is a responsibility. As the driver, you must follow the rules of the road, pay attention, drive sober and refrain from making dangerous driving decisions. Often, when we are talking with those injured where there are several people in the vehicle, the driver often feels responsible for the fate of the other people in the car. It’s understandable. When others ride with you, they are trusting you. It is an unsaid rule that the driver makes the rules. Thus, please require everyone in your vehicle to wear a seat belt.

There is really few things more tragic than reading crash reports when you see a car load of teenagers hurt in a motor vehicle crash where none were restrained. As a driver, you simply cannot control or will other drivers to be more safe. You can drive safely, keep a look out for driving errors and prepare yourself by wearing a seat belt.

Number of Missouri Fatal and Serious Crashes Involving Unrestrained Passengers

During the month of November 2022, the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported approximately 51 road fatalities. Twenty-six of those fatally injured were wearing seat belts while 21 victims were not. There was one classified as unknown and six were exempt (pedestrian fatalities). Every single fatality is a tragedy because most crashes are preventable. In October, there were approximately 55 fatalities of which 30 were not restrained. If seat belts reduce risk of death by about 45%, it is possible that approximately 13 lives might possibly have been saved. When it comes to your life or the life of one of your friends or loved ones, a 45 percent increase in your odds of surviving a crash seem significant.

Safety Recommendations for Safe Holiday Travel

In addition to WEAR A SEAT BELT, we strongly recommend that you do the following over the holidays and literally, 365 days a year.

Avoid driving under the influence. While most car crashes are preventable, driving under the influence is the very definition of negligence if you are in a car crash. We have been informed for over three decades about the dangers of drunk driving. Choosing the climb behind the wheel after you have been drinking

Don’t Rely on Air Bags Only- Air bags are designed to work with seat belts. Additionally, if you are hit multiple times, the air bags only deploy once. Air bags are not guaranteed to always deploy in every crash. A crash that still may be fatal for a unrestrained occupant may still not meet the precise speed/impact calculations of an air bag. Air bags do not promise to keep you in the vehicle. Your airbags can deploy and you can still be ejected from a vehicle if you are not restrained.

Wear Seat Belts Every Time you get in the car. Seat Belts are highly recommended whether you are driving two blocks, two miles or 200 miles. The vast majority of car collisions occur within 10 miles of your home, thus ALWAYS buckle up.

Wear a Seat Belt even if you are a back seat passenger. Sometimes people will tell me, “well, I didn’t need to wear a seat belt because I was in the back”. Strange logic. There are fewer back seat passengers overall in traffic which is predominantly why the back seat injury data is low–not because you are immune from injury.

You Do Not Want to Become a Projectile in Your Own Car

In a car crash, everything not restrained becomes a projectile. We do not mean to graphic or insensitive, it is simply physics. Thus, if you have a lot of junk in your car and you are in a crash, everything in your car can become a projectile. (Might be something to think about when you clean out your car). Books, computers, luggage and even your pet can become a projectile. What you really want to avoid is your body or the body of one of your passengers becoming a projectile. As the driver, you really do not want your back seat passengers ramming into the back of you. Again, motor vehicle crashes are violent and scary events. Riding in a motor vehicle is the most risky behavior that almost all of us engage on a daily basis. The simple act of buckling your seat belt can increase your odds of avoiding a fatal crash by almost 50 percent.

Have a Plan Should You Be in a Crash

No one ever plans on being in a motor vehicle incident. If you planned it, then it would be purposeful and possibly criminal. Just as you don’t plan a house fire, you do make a plan in case there is one. Know what you would do if you are in a motor vehicle crash assuming you remain conscious. Clearly, if you have a life-threatening injury or are unconscious, then you can make no plan or follow any steps. There are literally hundreds of thousands of crashes across the United States where all parties are able immediately okay and do not require immediate evacuation. In fact, we are all in an average of 4-6 car crashes in our lifetimes. Know what you will do. Know the steps. Having a plan or having thought about what you would do greatly decreases the sense of panic when one happens.

Panicking and freaking out after a crash is a natural feeling, so knowing some steps greatly reduces your anxiety level

Call 911. Don’t wait to see if someone is critical, call authorities immediately. Even if no one needs an ambulance, you need the officers to manage traffic so there are not more crashes including someone hitting you and you also need them to document the scene. Furthermore, the other driver is far more likely to give their correct contact information and insurance information if an officer asks for it.

Failing to call the police can be the Wild West when it comes to insurance claims. At the scene the other driver may tell you they are sure sorry and that they are at-fault. However, their story may change once they have left the scene and talk to their insurance carrier. In the greater metro area of St. Louis, it does happen that other drivers often give incorrect information and feign no insurance at the scene. Call the police to reduce that chance. If you are hurt, it will really tick you off if the other driver gave false information

Get contact information from everyone at the scene. It is a good idea to get the names of all parties and their passengers at the scene.

Take photos of the vehicles as the crash site if it is safe to do so. Sometimes, if you are in a heavy traffic area, this is not safe to do so.

Seek immediate medical help if you have pain. Pain is the body’s way of tell you that everything is not okay. Pay attention to any symptoms of pain the first few days and get help.

Call an Attorney. Often, we talk to individuals who end up not needing our help. If you end up not being hurt, we are delighted. We would much prefer to give you the information about the best decision process in the first few days rather than you winging it. The insurance claim system and your first conversations with the adjuster are not set up to be helpful to you.

Consult an attorney for free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.276.1681

Contact Us Today

The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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