Pros & Cons of Seat Belts

by Contributing Writer

A seat belt is a safety harness designed to hold you in place in the case of an accident or abrupt stop. It is intended to reduce injury or prevent death during a motor vehicle crash. It is a proven fact that seat belt use saves lives each year. However, many people prefer not to wear a seat belt.

Pros

Studies have shown that wearing a seat belt is the most effective method to reduce injury or prevent death during an accident. In fact, not wearing a seat belt is the single contributing factor that causes more deaths in motor vehicle crashes.

Safety Statistics

Seat belts are designed to prevent passengers from striking the interior of the vehicle or being ejected during a crash. They are credited to saving 9,500 lives each year. Conversely, 60 percent of fatal car crashes involved people not wearing a seat belt. Statistics show that 68 percent of people wear their seat belt while in the car. If 90 percent of passengers wore their seat belts, more than 5,000 deaths and 130,000 injuries could be prevented each year.

Cost

The cost of passengers not wearing a seat belt is staggering. We would all save money lost to higher health care and insurance costs if seat belts were used much more often. On average, each American pays nearly $600 per year for accidents. The sum to care for an unrestrained victim in an accident is 50 percent higher than that of a belted passenger. Tougher laws are being enacted to promote seat belt use across the country.

Cons

Law enforcement officials say enforcement programs are being implemented to get people to wear a seat belt. However, many argue stronger seat belt laws reduce their personal freedom, taking away their right to choose whether or not to buckle up.

Injury

Some restrained passengers involved in an accident complained of having multiple bruises and cuts and internal injuries. They say there would have been fewer injuries if they had not been wearing a seat belt. First responders also say they often see passengers who wore their seat belts too loosely, leading to increased injury.

Argument Against Seat Belts

When people are asked why they do not wear seat belts, these are the most common responses: "I'm just going down the street." But 80 percent of fatal traffic accidents happen within 25 miles of the home. "I'm a good driver." Bad drivers are out there. "I don't want to be trapped in the event of an accident." If you are thrown from the vehicle, you are 25 percent more likely to be fatally injured. If there is a fire or your car is submerged, you are more likely to get out quickly if you have not been severely injured in the crash.