According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in motor vehicle crashes. So why doesn’t every occupant of every vehicle wear one? The excuses are numerous, but most are based on myth, rather than on fact.
Let’s look at some myths about wearing seat belts and the facts that disprove them:
MYTH 1: Seat belts are uncomfortable or inconvenient.
FACT: People may, at first, find seat belts uncomfortable, confining or inconvenient. However, most drivers find that once they correctly adjust the seat, lap and shoulder belt, the discomfort and restrictive movement can be alleviated. It also cannot be stressed enough that the temporary discomfort that you may initially feel wearing a seat belt in no way compares to the serious pain and inconvenience of an injury resulting from a crash.
MYTH 2: Seat belts can cause you injury in a motor vehicle crash.
FACT: When worn properly, seat belts seldom cause injuries. If they do, the injuries are generally only minor bruises. Studies have consistently shown that injuries in most serious crashes would have been much more severe had seat belts not been worn.
MYTH 3: Seat belts prevent you from escaping a burning or submerged vehicle.
FACT: Vehicle crashes resulting in being in water or surrounded by flames are less than 1% of all collisions on the road. Seat belts can actually keep you from being knocked unconscious and unable to help yourself in these extreme circumstances.
MYTH 4: Seat belts aren’t necessary when you travel short distances.
FACT: Vehicle crashes are the number one cause of preventable death and injury in the nation and can occur whenever you’re on the road. According to the NHTSA, most vehicular crashes occur within 25 miles from home.
MYTH 5: It won’t happen to me…I’m a good driver.
FACT: While you may be a good driver, you cannot control the actions of others on the road. It is quite possible that in your lifetime, you will be involved in a crash caused by a bad driver, weather or road conditions.
MYTH 6: Wearing a seat belt is a personal choice and it doesn’t affect others.
FACT: If you are injured or killed in a crash as the result of not wearing a seat belt, your loved ones will be greatly affected. Your decision can also impact others because if you are not wearing your seat belt and get knocked out of your seat during a crash, no one is driving your vehicle. Moreover, highway crashes create an enormous economic toll on the lives of Americans. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's most recent estimate, highway crashes cost the nation $871 billion dollars a year.
Seat belts save lives and make the roadway a safer place for everyone. So, always take time to buckle up. Besides, wearing a safety belt isn’t an option…as a commercial driver, you are required by law (§392.16) to buckle up and could face state or federal penalties for not doing so.