Enforcing seat belt wearing helped states across America drastically reduce traffic fatalities. In spite of this, some people still refuse to wear seat belts. Some drivers and passengers also raise questions about its true effectiveness. After all, can a seat belt really do anything if you get into an accident with a truck?
According to the NHTSA, Americans used seat belts 90.17% of the time in 2019. It estimates that when people buckled up in 2017, it saved almost 15,000 lives. So, how well does this simple contraption work?
Seat belt statistics
Wearing a seat belt is no guarantee that you survive an accident with anything, whether you collide with a tree or a truck. Even so, in 2017, almost half of the people who died failed to wear seat belts. Had these people buckled up, the NHTSA believes another 2,549 people might still walk among you today.
Buckling up in a light truck reduces moderate and worse injuries by 65%. Researchers also saw a 60% reduction in fatal injuries. Car occupants face greater vulnerabilities on the road. Even so, car occupants experienced a 50% reduction in moderate or worse injuries and a 45% reduction in fatal injuries.
Seat belt technicalities
Seat belts work as part of a larger safety ecosystem to keep you safe. Without the seat belt, these systems become less effective. They may also do more harm than good. For instance, without a seat belt, your airbags may cause physical injury or death.
If you do suffer a collision with a truck, your seatbelt may save you. It may work in tandem with your airbags to better protect you. Your seat belt may also prevent you from flying through the windshield of your vehicle if a truck strikes it from behind. Should your vehicle flip across an intersection or roll down a hill, your seat belt may keep you pinned to the seat to reduce how often your body comes in contact with glass and metal.