Once upon a time, cars and trucks existed without seat belts or air bags and even well-behaved children roamed freely in the backseat. Flash forward to 2012, where seat belts are manufactured in every vehicle and their use is mandatory for the driver in all states but New Hampshire. Air bags have been mandatory in cars since 1998.
Has the legislation made any difference to the number of lives saved?
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System General Estimates System report (that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?) says that from 1987-2009, child restraints, safety belts and frontal air bags have been attributed to saving a combined total of 307,432 lives.
Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that the use of seat belts in cars reduces the risk of a fatal injury for front-seat passengers by 45 percent. For occupants of light trucks, the reduction in risk is even more startling. Light-truck passengers who fasten their seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent.<img style="margin: 5px; float: right;" alt="bigstock-Safety-Female-Driver-Fastenin-7302384.png" src="” />
To add to the effectiveness of your seat belt and air bags system, here are some pointers to follow:
1. Always wear your safety belt, even for short trips or on a day when you are dressed to the nines and are loath to get your outfit wrinkly. Check your vehicle’s manual for the proper way to use and adjust the safety belts for your vehicle.
2. Never put the shoulder harness strap behind your back. It cannot do its job of protecting you if it is not in its proper place.
3. Do not rely only on the air bag deployment for your safety. Air bags are intended as a supplemental restraint system in the case of an accident and are best used in conjunction with not as a substitute for safety belts.
4. Children 12 and under should be properly restrained and should be buckled in the back seat. They should not ride in the front seat unless there is no other option.
5. Infants and children should ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat “for as long as possible” according to The American Academy of Pediatrics. Follow the guidelines of the manufacturer for the maximum height and weight a child can be that is recommended for that specific car seat.
6. A rear-facing car seat should be buckled into the center of the back seat. The center is 43% safer than either of the sides. If more than one child is in the backseat, the front-facing child should get the center position.
7. Be aware of the air bag malfunction light. If it stays lit for longer than 10 seconds or so after you start your vehicle, there may be an issue with your air bag system. Stay on the safe side and have the problem looked into and fixed.
Buckle up and stay safe! You are important to us.
Your allies in safety ~ Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency.