SUV Crash Fatalities Raise Seat Belt Safety Concerns
A recent article on Philly.com reported that three Bucks County teenagers sustained fatal injuries in an SUV accident when their vehicle “flipped multiple times.” Two of the three victims were not wearing seat belts when the fatal car accident happened.
The crash occurred when an unlicensed 15-year-old driver from Westchester County, New York, lost control of the Chevrolet Suburban he was driving. Six teenagers were in the automobile when it crashed. The victims who sustained fatal injuries were all sophomores at Council Rock South. The two remaining passengers and the young driver survived the crash.
According to police reports, “two of the boys in the backseat were ejected, indicating that they probably were not wearing seat belts.” Police continue to investigate the cause of the crash, but preliminary reports suggest that neither drugs nor alcohol were a factor.
Seat Belt Safety: Buckle Up!
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), seat belts are “the single most effective safety device for preventing death and injury” during a traffic collision. Based on data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- Between 2004 and 2008, seat belts saved the lives of more than 75,000 people involved in car accidents;
- Seat belt use currently averages about 88 percent for all drivers and occupants across the country. If that percentage rose to 90 percent, NHTSA estimates an additional 1,600 fatalities and 22,000 injuries could be prevented;
Unfortunately, research indicates that certain groups of passengers still do not wear seat belts. According to the NSC, the following groups of people need to start wearing seat belts more often:
- Teenage passengers;
- Commercial truck drivers;
- Pickup truck drivers;
- Males driving in rural areas;
- Nighttime drivers; and
- People who have been drinking alcohol.
NHTSA emphasizes the fact that the population with the lowest seat belt use is teenagers and other young drivers. The good news is that the “Click It or Ticket” campaigns operating across the country are improving seat belt use statistics. Seat belt use increased nearly 20 percent between 1998 and 2009, an increase from 69 percent to 88 percent. According to data from the NSC and NHTSA, seat belt use is 13 percent higher in states with primary enforcement of seat belt laws (at 88 percent), versus a 75 percent rate of seat belt use in states with only secondary enforcement.
Make sure you and your loved ones do not become a statistic. Always buckle up!