Twenty-five years ago I was a paramedic working for an ambulance service. Seat belt usage was somewhere around 25 percent. In other words, only one of four drivers used the belts. Being young and impressionable I was left with one lasting impression--seat belts save lives. I never took a body out of a seat belt, but I sure took a lot of bodies out of cars.
Today we have made great strides in this area. It is illegal to drive a vehicle without buckling up in nearly all states in the nation. Seat belt use is now at about 85 percent nationwide. We are seeing traffic increase and fatalities decrease each year. Safety equipment, most importantly the belt, deserves the credit.
Still unconvinced? Are you one of the 15 percent who don’t use the seat belt? Perhaps you are falling victim to one of the “seat belt myths”. Here are three of the most common:
MYTH: Drivers in air bag-equipped vehicles don't need to wear safety belts.
FACT: Air bags provide supplemental protection in frontal crashes, but motorists can slide under them if they are not wearing a seat belt. In addition, air bags will not help in a side or rear impact or rollover crash. The air bag deploys at over 200 MPH; the belt could keep the bag from killing you! Motorists should wear a seat belt for protection in all types of crashes.
MYTH: I don't want to be trapped in a fire or underwater.
FACT: Crashes involving fire or water happen in only 1/2 of one percent of all crashes. So it doesn't happen often. However, when they do occur the best chance of survival rests in remaining conscious, uninjured, and in full possession of your faculties. The greatest danger is with the impact that precedes the fire or submersion in water. If you're not using a safety belt, it's very likely that you will be knocked unconscious or severely injured. If you're belted, it's very likely you will be able to unbuckle yourself and get out of a potential fire or submerged car situation.
MYTH: I'd rather be thrown clear in a crash.
FACT: Being thrown safely clear in a crash is almost impossible. When you're thrown, you may be thrown through the windshield, scraped along the pavement, or even crushed by your own vehicle or another one. The idea of being thrown from a car and gently landing in a grassy area beside the road is pure fantasy. Your best bet in a crash is to stay inside the vehicle, securely held by your safety belt.
For more ideas check out the following references. The bottom line is clear; keep yourself, your employees, and everyone else on the road safer by wearing your seat belt EVERYTIME you get into a vehicle.