Mandatory Use of Seat Belts Saves Lives.
Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective thing we can do to save lives and reduce injuries on America’s roadways. Failure to wear a seat belt contributes to more fatalities than any other single traffic safety-related behavior. Seat belts are the most effective safety devices in vehicles today, estimated to save 9,500 lives each year, yet only 68 percent of the motor vehicle occupants are buckled. Many people believe that wearing a seat belt is a personal choice and that the government should not interfere with the personal choices of individuals. They believe it is a great invasion of privacy. However, if the government did not enforce the seat belt laws, there would be an increase in injuries and fatalities, insurance premiums, and health care costs.
Drivers and passengers do not always survive accidents when they buckle up, but their chances of living, of walking away, or of making it out of the hospital alive increase if they do. Safety belts, air bags and proper child safety seats, when used consistently and correctly, can significantly reduce the rate of injury in a crash. In 1996, more than 60 percent of the occupants killed in fatal crashes were unrestrained. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), lap-shoulder belt systems reduce the risk of fatality and serious injury by 50 percent when used by drivers and front-seat passengers. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death among people less than 35 years of age. In a lifetime, there is a 30 percent chance of being involved in a serious automobile accident. There are 2.7 million people injured and 37,000 people killed each year in automobile accidents. Eighty percent of the deaths occur in cars traveling less than 40 miles per hour and less than 25 miles from home. Seat belts could prevent 50 percent of the fatalities and 55 percent of the serious injuries.
Though mandating seat-belt use probably would...