Nowadays, if you choose to travel in a vehicle without a seat belt, you are pretty likely to encounter one of your town's police officers up close and personal. The primary reason that seat belts are now required by law is simple: they save lives. Nonetheless, many people remain skeptical of this piece of safety equipment, and they have been for years. In fact, while seat belts were introduced in 1885, they were not declared a mandatory component of a car's safety equipment until the 1970s.
Unfortunately, some individuals still fail to see the need for seat belts in automobiles when on the road. This can be for a number of reasons, ranging from thinking they don’t do much in terms of protection to believing they will actually cause harm in the case of a crash. These and many other misconceptions regarding seat belts are absolutely untrue.
Here are some of the more common myths and wrong practices involving seat belts that you may want to keep in mind.
Seat Belts Aren’t Needed on Trips Close to Home
It makes no difference how short your journey is; terrible things may happen at any moment, and you should not take a risk if you do not have to. According to studies, more than half of all traffic-related fatalities occur within 25 miles of a person's house. Therefore, even if you are going near the corner, using a seat belt is not optional.
Seat Belts Can Trap You If You're Involved in a Wreck
Seat belts are designed to be unbuckled in mere seconds. In the case of an accident, you’ll typically still be able to release yourself from the belt with ease. Even if it takes you a few seconds, seat belts can keep you from colliding with the inside of your car and being knocked unconscious. It stands to reason that if you are awake, you have a far greater chance of escaping from your car in the event of an accident.
Child Seats Are Unnecessary If You Aren't Going on Big Roads
The legislation requires children under the age of eight to be restrained in a federally-approved child safety seat if they are less than 4' 9" tall. If they are taller than this, they must use a seat belt. However, research has found that vehicle accidents are the most avoidable cause of mortality among children.
If a police officer sees you with an unfastened kid, you will get a stern reprimand and a hefty fine. As the parent of a kid who is riding unbuckled in a vehicle, you may even get a visit from Child Protective Services. They demand answers to some tough questions, so it’s best to avoid giving them reason for a visit and make sure your child is safely strapped in, even if you’re just going to a neighbor’s house down the road.
Being Thrown from a Vehicle Isn't Dangerous
That is perhaps one of the most dangerous misconceptions out there. Some people believe that seat belts can prevent you from being thrown beneath your car or into the path of an approaching vehicle. However, you have a five times greater chance of surviving an accident if you are not ejected from a car on impact.
If you are hit, your car may come to a halt. However, bear in mind that if your vehicle was travelling at 35 mph, you are also travelling at 35 mph. Without a seat belt restraining you, you’ll continue travelling at that speed and potentially strike the car's dashboard—a force approximately equivalent to a fall from a three-story building! You will collide with the interior of your vehicle and, in most instances, suffer a severe injury.
Airbags Are Enough for Safety
If you own a late-model vehicle with contemporary front and side airbags, don't be fooled into believing it will keep you safe in the event of an accident. If you are not wearing a seatbelt, you may even be harmed by the airbags if you are involved in a collision. Give yourself an extra layer of protection while wearing your seat belt and ensuring that your airbag system is working correctly.
Seat belts, regardless of age, are the most critical safety item in a vehicle and may save you from injury or worse if you are involved in an accident. It is not just the law in all 50 states; it is also simply plain basic sense for you and your family.
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