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Seat Belts: Safety On The Road

Aug 17, 2007
Volvo has the honor of being the first to implement seat belts in 1849. The first U.S. patent for automobile seat belts was issued to Edward J. Claghorn of New York, New York on February 10, 1885.

This patent was described as a Safety-Belt for tourists that was "designed to be applied to a the person, and provided with hooks and other attachments for securing the person to a fixed object."

Failure to wear seat belts is responsible for more fatalities than any other single traffic behavior. In all of the traffic accidents reported for 1999, 63% of fatalities were not wearing seat belts.

Wearing a seat belt use is still the single most effective thing we can do to prevent unnecessary traffic deaths and injuries on America's roadways.

Traffic data suggests that education alone is not enough to convince young people, especially males from ages 16 to 25 of the dangers of not using seat belts. This age group is caught up in the belief in their immortality due to their young age.

It is this age group that also exhibits the most violation of drunk driving laws. They are also the most prone to speeding, and other traffic related law violations.

Because of this, it has been suggested that stronger seat belt laws and higher visibility enforcement campaigns be enforced to make them buckle up.

Seat belts are the most effective safety devices in vehicles today, estimated to save 9,500 lives each year. If 90 percent of Americans buckle up, it could prevent more than 5,500 deaths and 132,000 injuries annually.

The cost of unbuckled drivers and passengers goes beyond those killed and the loss to their families. Everyone pays for this negligence. It may be in the form of higher taxes, higher health insurance fees, and higher medical costs.

Imagine running as fast as you can, into a wall. You'd expect to get pretty banged up. What if while running at full speed a wall suddenly appeared in front of you? Would you be able to stop instantaneously?

This is exactly the situation one faces when the front of his or her car hits something at only 15 miles an hour. The car stops in the first tenth of a second, but you keep on at the same rate you were going in the car until something stops you, the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield, if you're not wearing your safety belt.

If this could happen at 15 miles an hour, imagine what a 30 mile per hour collision would result in? It would be the same as hitting the pavement after a 3 story fall.

A properly worn safety belt keeps that second collision - the human collision, from happening.

"Properly worn" means with both straps safely fitted to transfer the impact of the collision to the parts of your body that can take it, the hipbones and shoulder bones.

With just the shoulder strap on, one can still slide out from under and get strangled. The lap belt alone doesn't keep one's face from hitting the steering wheel or other parts of the car.

Wearing seat belts is the law in most countries. There really isn't any reason not wear them aside from plain laziness. But imagine, that investment of a couple of seconds before you carry on to drive could save your life. Why not make that commitment to invest now?
About the Author
James Monahan is the owner and Senior Editor of
BeltBase.com and writes expert
articles about belts.
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