Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on August 15th, 2019,
by Zane Cagle

Seat Belt Use? Every time you get in the car!

Posted on August 15th, 2019 by Zane Cagle

Be a Habitual Seat Belt User

Being a “habitual user” of anything is usually frowned upon, but being a habitual seat belt user can save your life!  There are still too many drivers in Missouri that are failing to wear seat belts.  They may wear the seat belt intermittently, but not habitually. We all must be habitual seat belt users!  A seat belt may be the number one thing that saves your life in a car crash.  Motor vehicle crashes can happen whether you are three blocks from your home or 300 miles. In fact, most crashes occur within 25 miles of your home. Hence, the notion that you only need a seat belt for long distances is false.  You need a seat belt EVERY TIME you get into the car.

Seat Belts Save Lives

The national seat belt usage rate was 89.6% in the United States in 2018 according to the NHTSA.  Seat belt usage saved an estimated 14,995 lives in 2017.  The statistics support seat belt usage.  As a car crash attorney, I see the devastating consequences of motorists failing to wear a seat belt.  Forty-seven percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2017 were unrestrained. Of the 33,133 people killed in motor vehicle crashes, 47% wear not wearing seat belts. That is almost half!

Why do we continue to fail to wear our seat belts?  I’m dumbfounded.  Twenty years ago, we knew seat belts saved lives.  Fifty years ago, you may not have been able to find the seat belt in your car. The invention and use of the seat belt is one of technological things that has greatly improved vehicle safety.

Myth vs.Reality

If my car has air bags, then I do not need to wear a seat belt.  Myth.  Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not instead.  Air bags do not always deploy in every crash that may be significant to eject an occupant.  Manufacturer studies have show that you are safer buckled up without an airbag than you are with air bags and not buckled.

Seat belts can trap you in fire or under water.  Myth.  Vehicle crashes involving fire or water account for 1/2 of 1% of all crashes.  As well, if you are not conscious, you cannot escape dangers like water or fire.  Wearing a seat belt gives you a much better chance of being conscious and able to escape.

If I’m not traveling very far or very fast, I really don’t need a seat belt. Again, myth.  Crashes can occur at any speed or any distance from your home. Simply routine driving patters can be exceptionally dangerous because you are on familiar roads. Most fatal crashes occur within 25 miles of one’s home and at speeds less than 40 mph.

My seat belt can hurt me in a crash. True. Your seat belt can hurt you in a crash because you are in car crash.  The dash and windshield can hurt a lot more. The seat belt is on of the few things that can save your life.  Seat belt burns and strains are frequent injuries in crashes. But, imagine if the seat belt had not restrained the person?

Pick-ups, SUV’s and larger trucks are safer, so I don’t need to wear a seat belt. Myth.  As far as the food chain on the roadways, there is always a bigger vehicle.  But, a bigger vehicle does not mean that you are less likely to be injured.  Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to the driver and front seat passenger by 60%.

Men are stronger and more durable, thus they shouldn’t worry as much about seat belts.  Myth, Myth! In fact, young men are the most at risk primarily because they are the demographic that most often fail to wear seat belts.  Of the male occupants between the ages of 18-34 who were killed in fatal crashes, 60% were not buckled.

It’s the Law in Missouri

Wearing seat belts to reduce car crash fatalities has become so well documented that many, many states have passed laws requiring all occupants to buckle up. Missouri is one of those states. An officer can pull you over and ticket you for failure to wear a seat belt. At times, law enforcement will do a seat belt awareness campaigns and they will publicize that they will be enforcing seat belt laws. They entire point of these campaigns is not to run up a bunch of tickets. Instead the point is to actually increase seat belt use.

I have never spoken to someone who was seriously injured in a car crash where they told me they wish they had not been wearing a seat belt. I do talk to people who are seriously injured who regret their failure to wear a seat belt.  Seat belts save about 15,000 lives a year.

We cannot plan for a car crash incident. You cannot always know how others will drive on the roadways. The best defense for encountering a bad driver or a driver under the influence is your seat belt.

If you are in a motor vehicle crash and you are injured, you are probably thankful you were wearing your seat belt. Still yet, there can be injuries. If you are injured, you need immediate medical treatment. If you failed to wear a seat belt and someone else hit and hurt you, you are not barred from bringing an injury claim.  No matter the circumstances of your motor vehicle crash, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Filing an Injury Claim After a Crash

There are many types of crashes including multi-vehicle crashes, commercial carrier crashes, truck crashes, car crashes and motorcycle crashes. No two crashes are the same just as not two people are the same. There are often similar fact patterns, but how each person is injured and heals is very different.  Often I talk with individuals who had a friend or a family member in a crash and they think they their claim should work out the same way and with a similar result.  However, this is not practical.  Just as each person is unique in the way they respond to treatment and heal, you cannot base your personal experience on what a friend of a friend told you.  You should go directly to an attorney for advice.

We are available seven days a week, 1.800.685.3302 or locally, 314.257.0214