The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that since 1975 to 2008, figures have shown that the use of seatbelts in the United States alone has saved an estimated 255,000 lives! Although primary seatbelt law does not exist in every state in the US, it is clear, from the evidence presented by CDC that seatbelt laws and the use of seatbelts in vehicles save lives.

A seat belt, sometimes called a safety belt, is a safety harness designed to secure the occupant of a vehicle against harmful movement that may result from a collision or a sudden stop. A seat belt reduces the likelihood and severity of injury in a traffic collision by stopping the vehicle occupant from hitting hard against interior elements of the vehicle or other passengers (the so-called second impact), by keeping occupants positioned correctly for maximum benefit from the airbag, if the vehicle is so equipped, and by preventing occupants being ejected from the vehicle. The seat belt is designed to stretch at a controlled rate to absorb crash energy and reduce the severity of the occupant’s deceleration.

CDC states:

Seat belts protect people from needless death and injury. But whether it is because they are in a hurry, distracted, or they simply forget, many people don’t wear their seat belts, and thousands die as a result. CDC recommends effective, well-enforced seat belt laws to ensure that every person in every seat buckles up on every trip.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 15,000 lives are saved each year in the United States because drivers and their passengers were wearing seat belts when they were in a road traffic crash.

Seat Belt Safety: 5-Way Protection
“Seat belts prevent occupants of the vehicle from serious injury in five ways,” says Angela Osterhuber, director of the Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project in Media, Pa. A seat belt:

  • Keeps the occupants of the vehicle inside. “It’s clearly a myth that people are better off being thrown clear from the crash,” Osterhuber says. “People thrown from a vehicle are four times more likely to be killed than those who remain inside.”
  • Restrains the strongest parts of the body. “Restraints are designed to contact your body at its strongest parts. For an older child and adult, these parts are the hips and shoulders, which is where the seat belt should be strapped,” Osterhuber says.
  • Spreads out any force from the collision. “Lap-and-shoulder belts spread the force of the crash over a wide area of the body. By putting less stress on any one area, they can help you avoid serious injury,” Osterhuber says. A shoulder strap also helps keep your head and upper body away from the dashboard, steering wheel, and other hard interior parts of the automobile should you stop suddenly or be hit by another vehicle.
  • Helps the body to slow down. “What is it that causes injury? A quick change in speed,” Osterhuber says. “Seat belts help extend the time it takes for you to slow down in a crash.”
  • Protects your brain and spinal cord. A seat belt is designed to protect these two critical areas. “Head injuries may be hard to see immediately, but they can be deadly,” Osterhuber says. Likewise, spinal cord injuries can have serious consequences.

CDC report that in the United States alone, in their study of seatbelt use from 1975-2008 an estimated 255,000 lives have been 

Seatbelts have saved an estimated over 250,000 lives since 1975

The use of seat-belts and child restraints is one of the most important actions that can be taken to prevent injury in a motor vehicle crash. While seat-belts and child restraints do not prevent crashes from taking place, they play a major role in reducing the severity of injury to vehicle occupants involved in a collision. An occupant’s chance of survival increases dramatically when appropriately restrained.

Facts about seatbelts

  • 75 % of passengers thrown from a car die. Unbelted occupants are 30 times more likely to be thrown from a car
  • In a crash at 30mph, if unrestrained, you will be thrown forward with a force up to 60 times your own bodyweight
  • The latest surveys show 93 per cent of adult front seat passengers and 94 per cent of drivers wear seatbelts. For back seat passengers, 93% of children (under 14) and 70% of adults are secured
  • All the safety features you paid for in your car were tested with the assumption you would be wearing a belt. Without a seatbelt, those safety features are not designed to work
  • If you are not wearing a seatbelt and you have a crash, there may be implications for how much your insurer might pay in respect of injuries
  • Once one person puts their seatbelt on, everyone else in the car is more likely to do so.