Seat belts critical for teens

by Theo Holshouser

Car crashes have become an increasing risk in today’s society, with road crashes being the leading cause of death for people aged 15-26, and the percentage of people killed in motor vehicle accidents is increasing every year. The Association for Safe International Road Travel states that unless action is taken, road traffic injuries are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.

Because of this, it is important that preventative measures are taken to both reduce the risk of causing a car accident and to reduce the risk of injury in case of an accident. The first and most obvious measure that can be taken to ensure safety is to wear a seat belt.

According to the  National Organization for Youth Safety, for a passenger who is traveling in the backseat at the time of their car crash, wearing a seat belt is 44 percent more effective at preventing death than riding unrestrained. For those riding in the rear of vans and sport-utility vehicles during a car crash, rear seat belts are 73 percent  better at preventing fatalities. In more than half of all fatal car crashes, victims were not properly restrained.

The numbers are higher among young people. In 2008, 64 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants ages 13 to 15 and 21 to 34 killed in traffic crashes were not using restraints.  These age groups had the highest percentage of all age groups.

Research has shown that lap/shoulder seat belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45% and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%.

Wearing a seat belt reduces risk of an accident. North Carolina law requires all passengers to wear a seat belt while inside a motor vehicle. Drivers can further reduce the risk of an accident by avoiding driving while drowsy, paying attention to the road and being responsible by paying attention to signs and indicators and following all rules of the road.

Students can lean more about safety while driving by participating in the Save A Life Tour on Nov. 4.

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