Do Not Wear Your Seat Belt
Does wearing a seat belt protect you from all car accidents? Does a seat belt guarantee you safety in a vehicle? Can simply fastening a seat belt magically place a bubble around you while driving your vehicle? Some believe the answer to all of these questions is yes, no doubt. But, they are wrong.
Seat belts can be fatal. They can cause severe injuries from getting into a car accident. Not wearing seat belts can reduce these risks of getting extremely hurt in a car accident. They can even reduce the risks of accidents overall since the driver will drive more cautiously and be a lot more aware of their surroundings, from not wearing a seal belt. But, unfortunately, there are people who disagree with this statement.
To begin, the opponent, and a worthy one at that, strongly suggests statistics that look great on paper. “Seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45% and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%.” Also, “on average, 47% of people who die in car accidents weren’t wearing their seat belts.” It seems imperative to wear the seat belt for your own protection and to save your life. If a driver gets into an accident, the job of the safety belt is to hold the person back and cause the person to stay in the seat and firmly hold the person in place. Seat belts are designed to protect its passengers. We are told that fastening a seat belt will hold you in place and keep you from being ejected through a window or a windshield. Just as important as protecting the driver, wearing a seat belt is the law in most states and we should obey the law. Moreover, if one chooses not to obey the law, many states will even issue the driver a ticket for violating the seat belt law.
On the contrary, seat belt use is not always ideal. Consider getting into a horrific car accident and needing to get out of the vehicle, but you cannot because the seat belt is holding you, strapping you, in a locked position with no leverage at all to escape from the crushed car. In addition, what about the other 50% of the people who were not wearing their seat belt. They survived. However, we do not live on paper, and through statistics, we live in the real, tangible world. In addition, seat belts fail. There are defects that could include false latching, a torn or worn belt, belt slack, belt failure, and even retractor failure. They malfunction and because of that, they will not protect you, instead they will kill you. Reports have proven that seat belts cause serious injury. Seat belts can impact the neck, spine, head, chest, abdomen, and other internal structures. Seat belts can be fatal.
In addition, and a substantial addition at that, buckling up can absolutely cause severe injury. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “thousands of people suffer severe injuries or lose their lives every year due to a defective or malfunctioning seat belt.” Such injuries occur during the pressure of extreme force upon impact with the restraint from a seat belt. These injuries could include skin abrasions and bruising, as well as, internal injuries, such as liver or spleen lacerations. Other symptoms could encompass severe soreness when breathing, laying down, or moving one’s arms. These common injuries caused by the use of a seat belt are commonly referred to as seat belt syndrome. These victims could suffer in pain which could last for days or even up to weeks after an accident.
Even though these safety restraints in a vehicle have been accessible for use for over 125 years, they were not always enforced. They have been available to use in motor vehicles, but not all states or countries immediately mandated the use of them. For instance, “seat belts are not universally used in most countries.” These countries that, at some stage, participated in excluding the seat belt are Belgium, Denmark, France, Sweden, and Spain. Similarly, the state of New Hampshire does not have a seat belt law requiring people over the age of eighteen to wear a seat belt. There are no significant amounts of accidents in New Hampshire as compared to other states that are wearing seat belts. Moreover, New Hampshire is not among the top five states that have the most car accidents. These states include California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. Even though these states are mandated to wear seat belts, not every individual follows the law.
For example, some groups are even against such seat belt legislation. These individuals believe that the laws requiring the wearing of seat belts are an infringement on one’s individual liberty. Also, they believe that the number of lives saved by wearing seat belts are overstated. Dr. Gerald Wilde, a professor of psychology at Queen’s University, proposed a theory in 1982. It was called the Risk Homeostasis Theory and it stated that “every person has an acceptable level of risk that they find tolerable.” There is a subjective level of risk, and this theory suggests that rather than more controls and restrictions, sometimes fewer controls and more motivation could be much more effective. It also states that when people make their own decisions about reducing risk to an appropriate level, they will then behave accordingly.
So, we consider, can wearing a seat belt cause injury? Did any one person ever die from wearing a seat belt? Can fastening a seat belt cause internal injury and/or brain injury? The answer to all of these questions is yes, no doubt.
There are so many excuses one could admit to for not wanting to wear a seat belt. “It is so uncomfortable,” “I’m just going down the street and I’ll be home in a minute,” and the favorite, “I am a great driver.” The one excuse that really sticks out, it could kill you, literally. Even if you do wear a seat belt, it could be defective and still cause you to be ejected from the vehicle or hit the windshield and suffer a traumatic injury. It is an instrument of injury. We must not risk the failure of the seat belt. The answer is simple. Be smart, be proactive, and take responsibility on the road. Keep yourself safe so that every time you put your foot on the gas pedal, you know you are coming home safe.
Lubitz, K. “Risk Homeostasis: Reducing risk does not necessarily reduce accidents” McKinley, K. and Brennan, R. “Car Accidents by State” Dec. 29, 2022 www.policygenius.com
The Zebra, “Seat belt statistics” www.zebra.com