Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wearing Lap and Shoulder Belt Saves Lives

In the past 40 years, new vehicle safety standards and more sophisticated safety equipment in U.S. automakers has saved an estimated 300,000 lives! One and only one of those safety features saved more than half of those lives – seatbelts!

We all know people who refuse to wear their lap and shoulder belts, either because it’s uncomfortable, or it’s some sort of governmental intrusion into our lives. But, the fact is that seat belt use is not only the law (Click it or Ticket), but also a very smart, life-saving piece of equipment.

Most Washingtonians understand this, as a national Seatbelt Safety Study in 2006 found that only 10 states achieved seatbelt useage of 90 percent or higher, and Washington state had the highest number of individuals who used their seatbelts at 96.3 percent!

While technology keeps bringing us new safety features designed to protect us while on the road, the good old seatbelt continues to be the number one safety feature you can have in your automobile. Use it, and insist that every passenger use theirs before leaving your driveway!

Children and Seatbelts

Auto accidents are the number one killer of children ages 4-14. In 2005, and average of five children died each day and another 640 were injured!

The main reason for these awful statistics is the improper use of seatbelts, booster seats and child restraints. Almost everyone buckles up their infants and small children when in the car, but problems occur when they are not buckled properly. When purchasing a children’s car seat or booster seat, make sure to read the instructions carefully. For instance, an infant or small child should never be placed in a front seat, regardless of the type of car seat they’re in. In the event of an accident, an air bag will deploy at around 200 miles per hour, and will severely injure or kill a small person.

All infants should be securely strapped in their car seat – facing towards the rear of the car! In an accident, the back support of the car seat will help protect them from catastrophic injury, especially to the head and neck area. Even children who have outgrown a car seat, but are less than 80 pounds, should remain in the back seat in a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt securely fastened.

A recent study found that only 10-20 percent of children who should be in a booster seat actually use them. A child in a booster seat is 59 percent less likely to be injured than a child restrained by a seatbelt alone!

Courts Rule U.S. Automakers Liable for Lack of Automotive Safety

The Supreme Court ruled recently that United States automakers can be sued for failure to install the most effective safety equipment in their vehicles.

The court’s decision means a California man can now sue Mazda Motors after his wife died after the lap belt she was wearing caused her body to jackknife in an accident in which she was a passenger in the middle of the back seat. The Mazda she was riding in had no shoulder restraint in that seat, and she died from severe abdominal injuries and internal bleeding.

The Supreme Court’s decision was a surprise reversal of a lower court’s ruling that said automaker’s were protected against lawsuits for failing to install immediately install air bags in all their vehicles.

The court’s reasoning was that lawsuits filed by injured motorists can lead to safer products. This ruling indicates a clear change of direction regarding automaker safety requirements. Every lower court had determined that federal rules pre-empted lawsuits by accident victims over seat-belt design. As of 2008, there are more than one million cars on the road  that have at least one lap-only belt.

Sources: http://safety.lovetoknow.com, http://www.fairwarning.org