Seatbelts save lives

  • Published
  • By Mike Seekamp
  • 82nd Training Wing Safety Office
Our office conducts random seatbelt surveys of drivers and passengers each month on Sheppard Air Force Base with near 100 percent compliance. This is great news. However, nationwide seatbelt usage is around 84 percent.

Seat belts are the single most effective traffic safety device for preventing death and injury, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent. These statistics prove it:

· Seat belts saved more than 75,000 lives from 2004 to 2008.
· Forty-two percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2007 were unbelted. A 2009 NHTSA study estimates more than 1,600 lives could be saved and 22,000 injuries prevented if seat belt use was 90 percent in every state.

The good news is that in 2008, seat belt use was 83 percent, compared to 69 percent in 1998. NHTSA attributes this increase to the "Click It or Ticket" campaign, originally created by the National Safety Council as part of its Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign.
What are ways to make your seatbelt more effective for you?

Lap Belt:

- Be sure the belt is snug. Slack allows room for movement before or during the crash, increasing the risk of spinal cord or head injury.
- Be sure the belt is flat. A twisted belt concentrates the stress on a small body area, increasing the likelihood of injury.
- Sit with your seat back upright. If the seat is reclined, you can slide under the belt, strike the dashboard or front seat and increase the possibility of abdominal injuries.
- Sit back deeply in the seat.

Shoulder Belt:

- Be sure the belt is snug. Too much slack could result in facial and chest injuries.
- Wear the belt over the shoulder, across the collarbone and diagonally across the chest.
- Do not wear the belt under the arm. The collarbone is strong enough to distribute the crash forces, but the ribs are likely to break and puncture the lungs, heart, liver or spleen that lie beneath them.
- Do not wear the belt in front of the face or neck.

This information taken from