The effectiveness of seatbelts is not nearly as cut and dry as one might first be led to believe. There are lots of different factors to be taken into account when judging whether they actually save people or not. First of all, seatbelts really aren’t saving all that many people per year anyway. At least, not nearly as many as the figure would lead you to believe. Many of the people who were “saved by seatbelts” would have been perfectly fine had they not worn one. Another thing to keep in mind is that seatbelts have only been shown to be effective when they are worn correctly. Not only this, but when they are worn incorrectly, you are actually making it more likely for you to get injured in an accident. Additionally, wearing a seatbelt provides drivers with a false sense of security, which in turn causes them to lower their senses and inhibitions, making them more likely to end up in a collision. Considering all of these elements, I think it is safe to say that seatbelts cause drivers of vehicles to become more vulnerable to an accident.
Contrary to what many might believe, statistics are not necessarily on the side of the seatbelt. According to the NHTSA, of the 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, 47% of them were not wearing their seatbelts (Medium). This means that more than half of them WERE wearing the seatbelts that were supposed to save their lives. This leads us to one question. If seatbelts are not making people safer, how come the amount of motor vehicle deaths has declined recently? We can reasonably infer that the reason this number has gone down is due to better technological advancements, more safety regulations and other outside factors. Ultimately, people want seatbelts to work. They want to feel safer in their cars. However, staying with this naive mindset is giving people a false sense of security while driving. A lot of people think that they are invincible while driving. This is because they are so used to wearing seatbelts and not having to worry about having their life and other peoples lives in their hands.
Another thing that makes seatbelts dangerous is their locking mechanic. Anybody who has ever worn a seatbelt knows this. If you try pulling the seatbelt too fast, it freezes up, or locks in place. This is to prevent people from going flying when they get into an accident, but what it actually ends up doing is just giving people whiplash and causing injury and entanglement when they are in minor accidents, which are significantly more common than a severe car crash. One article read that “Since 2000, over 200 rear seat occupants have become entangled in the seatbelt when they inadvertently switched it from emergency locking mode (ELR) to automatic locking mode (ALR). Since a method is needed to lock the seatbelt when installing child restraint systems (CRS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) commissioned tool, inc. to develop prototype devices that could reduce the risk of seatbelt entanglement resulting from the lockability requirement.”(sae.org) This statistic just makes it seem like all of this isn’t even worth it. If these seatbelts are only going to cause a mass number of people to get injuries that they otherwise wouldn’t, they are not worth having in cars, and are actually making the roads a lot more dangerous.
While many people think that they are great drivers, the truth is that most are not. This false sense of superiority on the road is already a problem as it is, causing people to take unnecessary risks and try to do things that they can not pull off. Now imagine how much worse that is made because somebody is wearing their seatbelt and doesn’t even care enough to look at the road because they incorrectly believe that wearing a seatbelt makes them invulnerable and a better driver than Dale Earnhardt Jr. All of that extra risk is not worth what seatbelts provide for society, and if you think it is then you need to straighten out your priorities. Also, not only do people feel safer and therefore are less safe when driving with a seatbelt on, but they also cause people to drive faster, which results in more deadly accidents. I do not believe that seatbelts giving bad drivers unwarranted confidence and the idea that they can afford to go faster than they actually can is making the road a safer place in any capacity. A new phenomenon is something that is known as “seatbelt syndrome”. Essentially, after getting into an accident while wearing a seatbelt, certain victims report having lingering injuries such as intra-abdominal injuries and vertebral fractures. This has been known to cause chronic pain in its victims for the rest of their lives. Many sufferers of seatbelt syndrome never recover, and their quality of life diminishes heavily.
To conclude, the definitive reason that you should not wear a seatbelt while driving is that it does the one thing that you do not want to happen while you drive. It makes the road more dangerous. Seatbelts cause drivers to lower their inhibitions and become more susceptible to damage sustained during a wreck or collision. Many people refuse to accept this truth because they can not wrap their minds around the fact that something that is supposed to be protecting us is actually harming us, and it is being promoted by the government. If people opened their eyes up to this sort of thing more often, they would see that it is not all the uncommon. The government promotes things that are against the best interest of the people all the time, take, for instance, the fact that tobacco and nicotine is a billion dollar industry that kills people, but makes money, so its not a big deal to the government. If people realized that a lot more often than they realize, this world is not as soft and protective as they have been led to believe. It is the lack of people that are willing to challenge common belief that allows the narrative of helpful seatbelts to prevail.
Klinich, K., Ebert, S., Malik, L., Manary, M. et al., “Seatbelt Entanglement: Field Analysis, Countermeasure Development, and Subject Evaluation of Devices Intended to Reduce Risk,” SAE Technical Paper 2019-01-0619, 2019, https://doi.org/10.4271/2019-01-0619.
Shiobara, D. “Do Seatbelts Really Save Lives?” Medium.com May 15 2020 https://medium.com/@dossy/do-seat-belts-really-save-lives-74f4c0b79444