When I was a small child, whenever we got into the car, my mom would always sing the little jingle, “Buckle Up For Safety, Buckle Up,” to impress upon us kids the importance of wearing our seatbelt. It’s funny how that little song has always stuck with me, even after all these years. In fact, I still think about it when I see some of our clients who have been injured in a car accident while not wearing their seat belt, or I read news articles about people being injured or killed while not wearing their seat belt.
The statistics back up what my mom already knew….that wearing your seat belt can drastically improve your chances of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle collision. A 2015 study by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety found that while only 6% of drivers and front seat passengers do not use their seat belt, they account for 32% of the occupants killed in 2015. Much of the danger in not wearing a seat belt comes from unbelted motorists being “launched” inside the vehicle, slamming into objects or other occupants, and more significantly from being ejected from the vehicle. Many people get a false sense of security from air bags, however airbags are designed in such a way that their effectiveness is dependent on the occupant wearing their seat belt.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of seat belts, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety provides the following tips for seat belt use:
- Always wear your seat belt;
- Wear the lap belt snug across the hips;
- Never tuck shoulder straps under an arm or behind the back;
- Women who are pregnant should wear the lap belt under the stomach, as low on the hips as possible and against the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt between the breasts.
Seat belts are so effective in preventing serious injury or death that Minnesota law now makes it a mandatory. Minnesota Statute §169.686 requires all drivers and passengers to buckle up. Failure of the driver or any of the occupants to wear their seat belt can result in being pulled over for that offense alone, and the issuing of a ticket and substantial fine. These penalties however, pale in comparison to the potential larger consequences of severe injury or death from the failure to follow the law. Apparently there is some truth in the old adage that “mom, truly does know what’s best”.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, check out our website, or call 800.497.8888 for a free consultation.