Seat Belts are Deadly
Seat belts are deadly pieces of equipment. A healthy 49-year-old man instantly died in a car accident. The cause of death was from a seat belt. He suffered deadly compressions where the seat belt injured his neck, chest and torso. In addition, abrasions and lacerations were found from his upper left shoulder to the front, right side of his body. There were also hematomas of clotted blood found around the muscles of his throat and larynx. According to Fares Najari from “An Immediate Death by Seat Belt Compression; A Forensic Medicine Report – PMC,” the cause of death was the “compression of neck critical elements such as carotid sinus by a three-point safety belt.” A seat belt can indeed be a dangerous piece of equipment and it can even threaten one’s human life. The seat belt industry is proud of its claim that seat belts save lives. However, according to “Seat Belt Statistics,” of all the 37,133 highway deaths in 2017, more than half of those victims, 19,681, were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident and died anyway. Clearly, the effectiveness of the seat belt does not seem to be saving the lives of even half of the fatalities reported. Meanwhile, wearing a seat belt increases the likelihood of suffering a severe seat belt injury by 100%. Seat belts cannot injure the driver if one is not being worn. Currently, according to the Washington Post article “Here’s how good (or awful) your hometown drivers are at wearing a seatbelt,” there are about 14% of people nationwide who do not wear seat belts. Eliminating seat belts would produce more alert drivers, avoiding accidents and thereby saving lives.
The most common injuries caused by seat belts are abrasions, bruises, and cuts. The more severe injuries are fractures, internal organ damage, and various soft tissue injuries. In addition, seat belts also can cause damage to the rib cage and chest areas, and they can even burn the occupants’ skin if the seat belts are made of flammable material.
The more serious injuries are due to the drivers and passengers being impinged and/or crushed inside the vehicles, unable to escape the impact due to the seatbelt literally locking them in place. Consider, for example, a severe impact on the driver’s side door of a vehicle with a driver wearing a seat belt. The seat belt could prevent the driver from moving to the passenger side of the vehicle. This could cause the driver to be harmed since the driver would be locked into position on the driver’s side. The driver could be killed when the interior of the driving area gets completely demolished, leaving no means of escape for the driver. Without a seat belt, that same driver would be able to maneuver to the passenger seat and have a stronger chance of surviving the accident. Drivers should not take the chance of putting on a seat belt, when knowing it could potentially harm them. Instead, they should take control of the vehicles, understand the vehicles they are operating, and be aware of the surroundings, all factors that contribute to the safety on any road or highway. Eliminating the seat belt avoids this trauma altogether.
The proponents of seat belts strongly suggest statistics that promote the use of seat belts. This group undoubtedly believes seat belt use is 100% effective. However, if seat belts are devices that are supposed to save lives and spare drivers from serious injuries, then they should completely reduce the risk of dying in a car crash and reduce the risk of serious injury. But, they do not. According to “Seat Belt Statistics,” they reduce the risk of serious injury by only 50% and the risk of death by even less, 45%. The people who believe in seat belt use seem to suggest that it is imperative to wear seat belts for protection and in order to save lives, but all lives are not being saved by seat belts. Their reasoning is if a driver gets into an accident, the purpose of the safety belt is to hold the person in place and keep the person secured in the seat. In addition, the belief is that fastening a seat belt will supposedly keep the occupant from being ejected through a window or thrown into a windshield. While all of these claims appear to be valid on the surface, these promises are not full-proof. In fact, they are far from the truth.
Seat belts fail. They malfunction and because of that, they will not protect the occupants. Included in the report “Seat Belt Injuries,” seat belts can cause serious injuries. According to the article “Common Seat Belt Issues: Why You Should Get Them Checked,” there are defects that could include locking issues, a torn or worn belt, belt slack, belt failure, and even retractor failure. Furthermore, these accident-related injuries, while wearing a seat belt, are commonly referred to as “seatbelt syndrome,” as stated in an article called “Seat Belt Injuries.” This is one of the most severe types of seat belt injury. It occurs when the seat belt restricts the body of the passenger during a collision, causing damage to the internal organs. Even though the seat belt is carefully designed to restrain the upper body of the driver to prevent injury in the event of an accident, the force of that very same seat belt severely injures the chest area of the individual. In addition to this area, the most common internal organs affected by seatbelt syndrome are the spleen, liver, and bowel. A seat belt tears the colon or diaphragm and even fractures or dislocates the lumbar vertebrae. This type of spinal cord injury, causes the spine to compress causing paralysis or even death. Moreover, according to information on “Seat Belt Injury Statistics,” “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 the seat belt. This article discusses injuries that 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 victims could suffer in pain which could last for days or even up to weeks after an accident. Wearing a seat belt in an automobile, being the driver or a passenger, is quite harmful. Instead, eliminate the culprit and empower the driver to have the presence, confidence, and diligence to operate the vehicle more safely and cautiously.
As indicated by “A Seat Belt History Timeline,” safety restraints in a vehicle can be traced back to about two centuries. This article explains how the use of seat belts was not strictly enforced and only about 10% of Americans wore seat belts in their vehicles in the 1980s. Seat belts have been available to use in motor vehicles, but not all states immediately mandated the use of them. Even today, as mentioned on “Seat Belt Law,” 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. In fact, the article also points out that “even in the absence of a seat belt law, New Hampshire’s roads are among the safest in the country.” Furthermore, New Hampshire is not among the top five states that have the most car accidents. According to “Car Accidents by State,” the top five states are California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Some groups are strongly against 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. According to “Risk Homeostasis: Reducing risk does not necessarily reduce accidents,” Dr. Gerald Wilde, a professor of psychology at Queen’s University, proposed a theory in 1982, called the Risk Homeostasis Theory. It states that “every person has an acceptable level of risk that they find tolerable.” There is a subjective level of risk, and the 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.
Similarly, the Peltzman Effect, as stated in the article “The Peltzman Effect,” is a theory which states, “when safety measures are implemented, people’s perception of risk decreases, and so people may feel that they can now afford to make riskier decisions. As a result, the phenomenon predicts that mandatory safety measures actually experience a lower benefit than we would expect, because the safety benefits brought about by these measures are offset to some extent by increases in risky behavior.” The article pointed out that drivers were more prone to drive recklessly due to the lower perceived risk when safety equipment was installed. Any benefit from placing safety equipment on vehicles was offset by the increase in the number of accidents due to the greater occurrence of reckless driving. Consequently, the mandatory safety measures failed to decrease the level of fatalities. According to “Car Safety Physics – Limitations vs Benefits,” “seat belt use tends to increase risk-taking in drivers. This could lead to an increase in more severe accidents, which, in turn, reduces or mitigates the effectiveness of seat belts.” Therefore, safety in a vehicle is primarily determined by the state of mind of its driver, not by the type of equipment used in the motor vehicle. Safety in a vehicle is primarily determined by the state of mind by its drivers, not by the type of equipment used in the motor vehicle.
The more protection and security that drivers feel, the more likely they will engage in distracted driving. According to “Car Accident Statistics: Fatalities, Injuries and Top Risk Factors,” “nearly 1 in 10 fatal accidents are caused by distracted drivers.” As seen in the statistics by Studinski Law, it is estimated that about 33% of all deaths involved in car accidents are caused by reckless driving. There are about 1,000 people injured and nine people killed every day because of distracted driving. Distracted driving takes the attention of the driver away from the task of driving. Such distractions include eating, drinking, and texting. While 30% of all auto accidents are credited to the speed of reckless drivers, distracted driving alone causes 20% of car accident injuries. Information from “Car Accident Statistics: Fatalities, Injuries and Top Risk Factors,” states “These accidents are a direct result of negligence.” Examples of poor driving include speeding, failure to yield the right of way, running through stop lights, tailgating, erratic driving and racing, and texting or talking on the cell phone. Not only are these examples of reckless driving and the cause of accidents, they are illegal. In short, drivers need to respect the road.
Consider a rider on a motorcycle. There are no seat belts, doors, windows, steel, or any air bags. According to “While riding a motorcycle, reflective clothing should be worn,” motorcyclists stay safe by using hand signals, wearing reflective or bright clothing, and driving in the daylight with activated headlights. Motorcyclists do not have any protection surrounding them while driving and therefore, must possess a lot more highway alertness to remain safe. While driving they must have clutch control, use two separate brakes, and keep the cycle steady and upright. Motorcycle riders must frequently check their blind spot before merging into a lane. This fear of the rider ensures an enhanced dedication to safety such as the check of their blindspot most, if not, all of the time. All of these factors are performed to prevent a rider from having an accident with another vehicle. According to “7 Reasons Motorcycle Riders Make Better Car Drivers,” motorcycle riders are in tune to their ride, making them a better driver overall. The motorcyclist’s philosophy is to ride “like everyone is trying to kill you.” This motto allows the rider to anticipate and look for the most dangerous situations. As a rider, from the same source, states, “You learn never to trust another driver with your own safety and this makes you a better, more defensive driver.” This same philosophy needs to be accepted and implemented in the world of motor vehicle drivers. Comparing motorcycles to cars, cars have seat belts, airbags, and steel cages surrounding their occupants. While all of this equipment is installed with the intention of protecting the occupants from any impact, it gives the driver a heightened sense of security than that of the motorcycle riders, unfortunately resulting in a much lower level of attention on the roadway.
Moving on to the automobile, according to “Distracted Driving Statistics & Facts in 2023,” it is estimated that 3,000 deaths occur every year due to distracted driving and nine people are killed every day because of it. Distracted driving takes the attention of the driver away from the task of driving. Such distractions include eating, drinking, and texting. These accidents are a direct result of recklessness and poor driving caused by these distractions. Examples of poor driving include speeding, failure to yield the right of way, running through stop lights, tailgating, erratic driving and racing, and texting or talking on the cell phone. Not only are these examples of reckless driving and the cause of accidents, they are illegal.
When we consider young drivers, it is even more evident that the method to make driving safer is by having safer drivers and not by the use of seat belts. According to “Car Accident Statistics: Fatalities, Injuries and Top Risk Factors,” “if we could change the manners and mentality of drivers, mostly young ones, there would be a significant reduction in reckless driving accidents.” Moreover, from the same source, it reports drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers over 20. In fact, teenage drivers cause significantly more accidents than senior drivers. In another study from yet the same source, “the US Census Bureau estimates that 12.2% of auto wrecks in the United States are caused by teenage drivers while elderly drivers over the age of 65 are responsible for 7.5% of crashes.” The reason is because young drivers are more likely to be distracted and to be less cautious on the roadways than older drivers. Consequently, there needs to be more driving practice and stricter regulations on the roadways so there are less accidents and less injuries. With more education and better training for young drivers, the amount of accidents will greatly decline. Likewise, lessons need to be taught early on and better driving practices need to be implemented, similar to the ones held by motorcyclists.
Seat belts are lethal. They can cause severe injuries during car accidents. Not wearing seat belts can reduce these risks of getting extremely hurt in a car accident. Not wearing seat belts can even reduce the risks of accidents overall since the driver will drive with more caution and be a lot more aware of their surroundings. When you consider that drivers have an enormous responsibility while operating a motor vehicle, the remedy is clear and it does not involve the use of seat belts. Drivers simply need to incorporate better driving practices to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by the false reliance on seat belts. In short, drivers need to respect the road. Even if you do wear a seat belt, it could be defective and still cause you to suffer a serious injury. We must not risk the mechanical failure of seat belts. The answer is simple. Be smart, be proactive, and take responsibility on the road, so that every time you put your foot on the gas pedal, you know you are coming home safely.
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Hi Professor, could you please let me know if this is a well-written research paper and if I cited all my sources properly, as well as the reference page?
You could do a better job of Wielding Your Statistics, ChickenNugget.
When you say
and when you say
readers are left to wonder how to judge those numbers. You can help them.
For example, you could set up an EXPECTATION of what the number SHOULD BE if common knowledge about seat belts is correct.
IF SEAT BELTS are the life-saving, injury-sparing devices we all believe them to be, they should reduce the risk of dying in a car crash by something close to 100%, and the risk of serious injury similarly. But they don’t. According to SOURCE, they reduce the risk of serious injury by ONLY 50%, and the risk of death by EVEN LESS: 45%!
THE SEAT BELT INDUSTRY is proud of its life-saving claims, but of all the highway deaths in 2017, a year that cost 37,133 lives, MORE THAN HALF (19,681!) were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident and died anyway. How effective can seat belts be if they didn’t save the lives of even half of the fatalities?
Meanwhile, wearing a seat belt increases the likelihood of suffering a severe Seat Belt Injury by 100%! You can’t be injured by a seat belt if you’re not wearing one.
You still need to work on your short arguments, ChickenNugget, but this paper scores higher than its components because, taken altogether, your argument is pretty compelling. Improve those short arguments and import their improvements into this longer argument as soon as you can.
Thank you for the feedback! I revised!
Regraded SAT APR 29