Jennifer M. Pastiglione, MSN, RN, APN,Trauma Program Manager at
Nyack Hospital shares how seat belts really do save lives.

Nyack, N.Y. February 17, 2014 – There’s no doubt about it—wearing a seat belt can save your life. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of crash injuries and deaths by about 50 percent.

More than half of drivers and passengers killed in car crashes in 2009 were not wearing seat belts. From 2006 to 2010, seat belts saved more than 69,000 lives. Seat belt use is higher than ever: 88 percent of passengers and drivers wore them in 2009, up from 69 percent in 1998. But drivers ages 18 to 34, and people driving by themselves, are less likely to buckle up. Men are 10 percent less likely than women to use them. Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use. Only 54 percent of high school students say they always use a seat belt when they ride with someone else.
Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected from the vehicle during a crash. A person who is not wearing a seat belt is 30 times more likely to be ejected; more than 75 percent of those who are ejected die from their injuries. A seat belt locks you in place in case of sudden breaking or impact, and can help protect you against the jarring of sudden stops.

People may not put on seat belts because they are in a hurry, distracted, or they just forget. Some incorrectly assume that air bags will be sufficient protection. In fact, air bags and seat belts together provide the best protection for adults.

If you are a parent, use a seat belt every time you get in the car, to set a good example. If your children are 12 and under, have them sit in the back seat; the middle of the back seat is the safest spot. Buckle them up in a seat belt, booster seat or car seat, depending on their age and size.

Use a booster seat with both the vehicle lap belt and shoulder safety belts, until children are ready for just the seat belt (usually between ages 8 and 12). You’ll know they are ready when their knees bend at the edge of the seat and their backs and bottoms are against the vehicle seat back; the vehicle lap belt fits across the upper thighs; and the shoulder belt fits across the shoulder and chest.

Using a seat belt every time you drive should be second nature. If it’s not, remember that most deadly crashes take place close to home, so don’t assume you’ll be safe if you drive a short distance unbuckled. And being a good driver isn’t an excuse, either—you may not be the cause of the accident. Just one quick click can make all the difference for you and your family.

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