Author: Kirsten Barber
Collisions and other road incidents can happen any time, anywhere, no matter the experience level of the driver. One of the safest choices both drivers and passengers can make in a vehicle is to wear a seat belt. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that in 2017, seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,955 lives. In that same year, 47 percent of those killed in motor vehicle crashes were not wearing a seat belt.
Last year in North Carolina the NC State Highway Patrol handed out 87,313 seat belt violations, as well as 9,350 child restraint violations. Whether on a back-country road or highway, in a mini van or sports car, no matter the distance, always buckle up! Not only is it the law, it can save lives.
Why wearing a seat belt matters:
- Seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half. Paired with an air bag, seat belts provide the greatest protection for adults.
- Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected from the vehicle at the time of a collision.
- They can reduce air bag-related injuries.
- Wearing it sets a good example for young passengers or teen drivers.
Not only is buckling up important but wearing a seat belt correctly is imperative to it properly protecting you. Here are some seat belt safety guidelines:
- The lap belt and shoulder belt should be secured across the pelvis and rib cage.
- The shoulder belt should go across the middle of your chest and away from your neck.
- The lap belt rests across your hips, not your stomach.
- NEVER put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.
- Pregnant women should secure the lap belt below their belly so that it fits snuggly across the hips and pelvic bone.
Learn more about the correct way to install and buckle children into car seats and booster seats from the NHTSA here.
Speeding also presents a major safety risk to motorists and those they share the road with. For more than two decades speeding has been the cause behind one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities in the US (NHTSA). Troopers in NC handed out nearly 300,000 speeding citations in 2019, which accounts for 34 percent of the overall citations last year. According to the NC Department of Transportation, a crash on a road with a speed limit of 65 mph or higher is more than twice as likely to result in a fatality as a crash where the speed limit it 45 or 50 mph, and nearly five times as likely as a crash where the speed limit is below 40 mph.
Speeding is dangerous because it:
- Reduces a driver's ability to negotiate curves or maneuver around obstacles in the roadway
- Extends the distance traveled before a vehicle can stop
- Increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a hazard
- Increases the risk of crashes and injuries, because other vehicles and pedestrians might not be able to judge distance correctly
There are several reasons why a motorist speeds: Heavy traffic, running late or even anonymity. Risky driving behavior can be mitigated by planning ahead to ensure you leave on time and checking traffic conditions before you hit the road.
If you encounter a speeding or reckless driver, make room for them to pass if you are able and leave plenty of space between their vehicle and yours. If a driver is following or harassing you on the road, call law enforcement for assistance.