Wear one and keep your car in safe shape with help from licensed professionals
For most of us, it’s automatic: You get in your car, reach your hand over your shoulder, pull the seat belt down, and lock it in. But for some Americans, that’s still not happening, and too many needless deaths are still occurring because seat belts aren’t being used.
MAKING PROGRESS, BUT MORE TO DO
Although seat-belt use has been hailed as one of the greatest public-health successes of the 20th century, we as a nation have a ways to go to get everyone, everywhere always wearing a seat belt when they’re in a vehicle. Latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found 90.7% of Americans are wearing their seat belts, up from 81.7% 15 years ago. And our state fares better than the country as a whole: According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, Californians buckled up 95.9% of the time.
But those state and national figures show that some of us, for whatever reason, still aren’t using our seat belts, and the results are sobering. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute:
- Seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017. For drivers and front-seat passengers, using a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent in an SUV, van, or pickup, and by 45 percent in a car.
- But if everyone had buckled up that year, an additional 2,456 deaths could have been prevented. While the vast majority of drivers and front-seat passengers use seat belts, nearly half of people who die in crashes are not belted.
TAKE SEAT BELTS—AND VEHICLE SAFETY—SERIOUSLY
Behind each of those casualty statistics is a person whose life potentially could have been saved by the use of something as simple as a seat belt. Even with the advent of other safety technologies, buckling up remains the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.
Remember: Licensed repair professionals are your partners in vehicle safety. If your seat belt needs repairing or replacing, or if you have questions about your car or truck’s safety features, they’re happy to help. Find out more about services provided by licensees of the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Automotive Repair at www.bar.ca.gov; to check a professional’s license, visit search.dca.ca.gov.