When you are in a car on the road, wear a seatbelt. It can save your life. So many people seem to want to set themselves up for a Darwin Award. This post from Wired tries to explain why.
It’s not completely surprising, despite rapidly evolving safety tech. Thanks to the recession recovery and low gas prices, Americans are hitting the road more, especially riskier drivers, and they’re more distracted than ever.
What is shocking is that 48 percent of those killed in passenger vehicles—nearly 10,000 people—weren’t wearing a restraint when they died. Who the hell doesn’t wear their seat belt these days? And how do you convince the holdouts to save their own lives and buckle up?
According to the latest National Highway Safety Administration numbers collected by observers who creep on real-live drivers, 88.5 percent of drivers and front seat riders buckle up. That leftover 11.5 percent are most likely to be young men living in rural areas (especially the Midwest), driving pickup trucks.
Why? “Some people dislike the government telling them what to do,” says Russ Rader, who heads up communications for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Refusing to buckle up can be a political statement. Some, like your horrible high school boyfriend, complain the things are uncomfortable, or that other methods keep them safe, or that they don’t want to get trapped with one on.
Some people can’t click it for medical reasons. Others just forget, or have pseudo-rational rules about when belts are appropriate—not on short trips, not when it’s sunny out, not when they’re passengers, and so on. (Never mind that more than half of fatal crashes occur within five miles of home, and that unrestrained passengers not only die in crashes but become flesh-and-bone projectiles, taking buckled-in drivers out with them.)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rightfully touts convincing Americans to wear seat belts as one of the greatest public health victories of the twentieth century—just 11 percent buckled up in 1981. The industry’s attention has moved to more advanced tech, like electronic stability control, automatic braking, autopilot systems. But “seat belts are still the most effective way to reduce injuries and reduce fatalities in serious crashes,” says Ruth Shults, a senior epidemiologist who heads up the transportation safety team at the CDC. “They are still so important.” Every road death without a seat belt, she says, is “a real tragedy.”
I’ve always worn a seat belt. Not because I’m a bad driver, but because thins can turn ugly in a heartbeat. these videos are gruesome, but so is real life. I’ve driven as much as 25,000 mile in a single year on commutes. I’ve seen probably a couple of hundred accidents due to just about everything. Across the street from me a car ended up in the neighbor’s tree. I’ve never seen a fatal accident where somebody was wearing a seatbelt. Without one, well the driver of that car across the street? He ended up in the tree, outside the car. Fortunately he survived. Many people aren’t so lucky. Look if you need somebody to give you a ticket to because you are doing something stupid that you know is stupid, what does that say about YOU?
Buckle up. Here in the US it’s typically the law. Everywhere being unbuckled makes you a Darwin Award candidate. Buckle up and save lives, especially your own.