There is some bizarre notion among some drivers that not wearing your seat-belt is a safer way to drive. The idea among these people is that if you don’t wear your seat-belt, there’s a chance you might magically be ejected from scene of an accident and crash into the pavement somewhere outside the car. This is idiotic.
4. In an Accident, You Become a Projectile
When a car is traveling down the interstate at 60 mph everything in the car is moving with it at that speed- you, your backpack, the stuffed animals on the back window, etc. When your car comes to a sudden stop, such as in a forward collision, only things attached to the car will decelerate with it. Everything else, including your favorite stuffed animal, becomes a projectile flying through your car at 60mph.
When you’re wearing your seat-belt, you decelerate with the car and the car’s air bags help stop you from smashing into the steering wheel. If you aren’t wearing your seat-belt however, you’ll be thrown throughout the car, potentially hitting other occupants as 150lb speeding projectile. This is bad news for everyone in the car as a collision with you at high speeds is going to leave quite a mark.
3. Modern Safety Features Assume You’re Wearing Your Seat-belt
Modern cars are designed with numerous modern safety features, such as crumple zones and airbags, designed to help you survive a collision. Just take a look at this crash test video between a 1959 Chevy Bel Air and a 2009 Chevy Malibu. All of these safety features however are designed with the assumption that you’ll be sitting where you belong in the event of an accident. This isn’t the case if you’re thrown around throughout the car because you don’t have your seat-belt on.
2. You’re Unlikely to Survive Ejection
Many people claim that if you don’t wear your seat-belt, you’ll be ejected to safety and suffer few injuries. Unfortunately for them, that’s not the quite the case as the risk of fatality of an ejected occupant is three times greater than the risk of ejection of a non ejected occupant.
Even if you are one of the 3 in 10 people who are ejected without a seat-belt, it’s likely you won’t survive to be part of someone’s anecdotes explaining why they don’t wear their seat-belt.
1. Most Accident Fatalities Come from Not Wearing Your Seat-Belt
Probably the most convincing evidence for wearing your seat belt is simply that you are less likely to survive a fatal car crash if you’re not wearing your seat-belt. I used data from the National Highway Traffic Administration’s Fatal Accident Reporting System and compared the data on restraint use. I chose to focus on passenger vehicles only because most of this post has been about passenger vehicle safety features.
Over the course of 2013, 21,132 people were killed in fatal accidents involving a passenger vehicle. Although roughly the same percentage of people died with and without their seat-belt on, the survival percentage of those wearing seat-belts is considerably higher than those without. Simply look at the following graphs:
As you can see, those involved in fatal accidents with their seat-belts were twice as likely to survive than those who did not. Two-thirds of people without a seat-belt in a fatal accident were killed versus only one-quarter of those with their seat-belts on.
To me, this evidence is damning. It shows that you have a considerably higher chance of surviving a deadly accident with a seat-belt on, which is enough of a reason for me to wear my seat-belt. Remember, drive safe and don’t put others at risk- wear your seat-belt.