Seat Belt Myths: Separating Fact from Fiction
There are a lot of myths about seat belts, but one thing is always true: seat belt saves lives. They can’t prevent every single injury, though, which is why you want an experienced Delaware car accident lawyer on your side after a wreck. Call Silverman, McDonald & Friedman in Wilmington, Seaford or Newark to get the help you need.
Since the invention of the seatbelt in the late 50s, they have spread into every vehicle in every part of the world.
Laws have formed and evolved around them, requiring their usage and regulating their materials, safety ratings, and overall production. This is for one simple reason: they save lives. That’s what they were designed to do, and that’s what countless studies and safety tests have proven over the years.
But some people still resist using them in as many situations as possible. Despite all the education surrounding them, misinformation has led to drivers being unnecessarily worried or, more dangerously, apathetic to the dangers they face when they don’t buckle up. Fighting these myths is not only about correcting the wrong — it’s about potentially saving lives.
Common misconceptions about seatbelt usage
In the case of seat belts and their usage, there are five major myths to know and debunk:
- Seat belts are not only uncomfortable, but restrictive. Seat belts can feel a little unnatural, it’s true. However, your seat belt should be able to fit comfortably across your body, and the bodies of your children. It may need adjustment, but you should have full range of movement with no pressure when on correctly. If your children do not fit comfortably, they may be too small for just a belt. You may need to use a booster seat as well.
- Seat belts can trap you in your vehicle. When functioning correctly, they actually take less than a second to release when needed, and can prevent you from being knocked unconscious — which COULD trap you. You should test your seat belt regularly, to ensure it is working. And if you are in a car accident – even a “minor” one – you may need to have you seat belt replaced.
- Short trips don’t require seat belts. Most traffic-related deaths happen within 25 miles of your home and under speeds of 40 mph. If you are in a moving car, you should be buckled, no matter the distance, speed, or familiarity with the area.
- Seat belts take too long to put on. Seat belts can be secured in less than five seconds, especially when the movement is regular enough for muscle memory. Nothing is so urgent you cannot buckle up.
- Airbags render seat belts pointless. In actuality, airbags are designed to protect restrained individuals — not unrestrained ones. If you are not buckled, your airbags are likelier to hurt more than help you, or miss you entirely because you are not in the secured position they are set to cushion. They are meant to be used together, not one instead of the other.
How big of a difference does wearing a seatbelt truly make?
The science agrees: buckling up each and every time is the safest way to be in a car. Seat belts are intended not to restrict but to restrain in the case of any sudden movement, preventing you from being ejected from your vehicle entirely or slamming you into your dashboard, both of which can be fatal. It is simply not worth the risk to your own life, and the lives of your family members and friends, to skip this small step whenever you get into a vehicle.
To put it in perspective, when you make the choice to wear your seatbelt in a passenger car, you reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45% and your risk of moderate to critical injury by 50%. If you are in a truck, those numbers go up. Your risk of fatal injury is reduced by 60%, and by 65% for moderate to critical injuries. Those numbers reflect the lives saved every day by seat belts. They are the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash. After all, the nature of accidents is they can happen at any time and to anyone. There is no real way to prevent them entirely, but you can still protect yourself and your loved ones as much as humanely possible.
How do you wear a seat belt?
There are some guidelines for seat belt safety to keep in mind so the fit is effective, comfortable, and consistent:
- The lap belt and the shoulder belt should be secured across the pelvis and rib cage.
- Ensure the shoulder belt is away from your neck and across the middle of your chest.
- Similarly, the lap belt should be across your hips, not your stomach.
- Never put your shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm. This not only renders the entire belt useless, but could seriously injure you in the case of an impact.
- Make sure to check the seat belts of any potential new car to make sure you like the fit, and ask about any adjusters you may need.
Crashes are, unfortunately, not an uncommon sight here in Delaware, which makes seat belt usage and safety all the more important for those of us on the roads each and every day. In 2020, there were almost 30,000 accidents in our state alone, resulting in thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths. We will never know for sure how many were preventable, or how many were not wearing seat belts, but statistically there is a good chance at least a few of those deaths would not have happened if someone had buckled up.
When a car accident happens, no matter the circumstances, people can be seriously injured or killed. In cases of driver negligence or recklessness, those who cause dangerous accidents can be held responsible, as long as you get started on your case as quickly as possible. After all, in the end, this is not about right or wrong — this is about keeping you and your loved ones as safe as possible.
At Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, our Delaware car accident attorneys know exactly how life-altering and traumatic a severe car accident can be, and we want to help you get the compensation and justice you deserve. We will look at every fact surrounding your case with no judgement to plan out the best way to help you and your family. With offices in Seaford, Wilmington, and Newark, we can be right where you need us. To learn more, call us today at 302-888-2900 or use our contact form.
Attorney Jeffrey S. Friedman joined Silverman, McDonald & Friedman in 2001. He graduated from Widener University School of Law, and is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and in several Federal Circuit courts. He areas of concentration include auto accident and workers’ compensation cases. Read more about Attorney Friedman here.