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ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Do states with strict seatbelt laws really have fewer automotive fatalities?

Asked by ParaParaYukiko (6111points) May 6th, 2010

I’ve seen a lot of ads lately (in my home state) about seat belt laws, advertising that you will get pulled over and ticketed for not wearing a seat belt. Other states I’ve visited have signs along their highways reminding people to buckle up, but some emphasize it more than others. Seat belt laws vary greatly from state to state, and I have to wonder if they are really as effective as the intend to be.

I found this article which, although it seems to be a little old, mentions that seatbelts sometimes result in more aggressive driving, while non-buckled drivers tend to drive more safely because they are not protected by the seatbelt.

This article mentions that states with standard seat belt laws have a higher rate of belt use, but does it really result in fewer fatalities? If drivers are feeling forced to wear seatbelts (which some claim hinder the driver’s movements) what kind of negative effects would that have in terms of auto accidents? And do police really enforce seat belt laws? I’ve never heard of anyone being pulled over just because they’re not buckled up, but that might just be me.

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16 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

Yes. seatbelts saves lives and the statisics prove this. the idea behind seatbelt enforcement is not the number of citations that can be issued, but rather the saving of lives. i answered a traffic accident where a seven year old girl had been thrown through the windshield of her mothers car, after hitting a bridge abuttment. wearing a seatbelt would have saved her life.

Seaofclouds's avatar

As far as people being pulled over for not wearing seatbelts, it depends on the state and if wearing a seatbelt is a primary offense or secondary. If it is primary that means the cops can pull you over just because you aren’t wearing a seatbelt. If it is secondary, it means the cops have to pull you over for something else first and then they can cite you for not wearing a seatbelt as well.

As far as if they really help with fatalities in accidents, according to this article they do. They mention that seat belts save an estimated 9500 lives each year, but only 68% of drivers buckle up.

grumpyfish's avatar

“Figures released by the U.S. Department of Transportation after amplifying the advertising and enforcement campaign on May 19, 2003 indicated that “National belt use among young men and women ages 16–24 moved from 65% to 72%, and 73% to 80% respectively, while belt use in the overall population increased from 75% to 79%.”

robmandu's avatar

Somewhat interesting side note is that it was discovered the states with more stringent enforcement of the Click It or Ticket campaign had better results than those that simply spent more money on media. The states that had the strongest enforcement had the most people using seat belts. The states with the weakest enforcement had the lowest seat belt usage.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

NY (where I live) has strict seatbelt laws. I was in a bad accident about a year ago. I had my seatbelt on and it saved my life. However, my engine started smoking badly and my ignition wouldn’t shut off. I tried to get out of the car before it caught fire and discovered my seat belt was jammed. I couldn’t unbuckle. Luckily a nice man ran over and helped turn the car off. But I think seatbelts can go both ways. It can save your life but when they malfunction, they can become a death trap.

Cruiser's avatar

I have both had my face saved by seat belts in one head-on and my life was preserved in another when not buckled in. I still buckle in religiously when I remember to!!

sakura's avatar

I live in the UK and over here we have to wear seatbelts all the time. I personally don’t find them restrictive to my driving and I think I would rather be a little uncomfortable rather than going head first through my windscreen!

marinelife's avatar

According to the study quoted on Hyper Physics, the fatalities for the driver are reduced by 42 % (+ or – 4 %) by wearing a seatbelt.

Zaku's avatar

Too bad people in the LAND OF LIBERTY think they need to have LAWS in order to do something simple to improve their safety.

Trillian's avatar

The land of liberty means that people have options to pursue their own religion and happiness. It does not equate with lack of laws or law enforcement. And since every country can boast their fair share of thoughtless, ignorant and uninformed people who need to be forced to do what is safe for them and their children, I see no need to single out the United States as if it were some sort of anomaly.

faye's avatar

It is law for Canada with fairly big fines if you don’t. Alberta Transport says they work and they must save you a bit from the airbag. I remember laying in the rear window ledge while my dad drove to town!

jerv's avatar

Let me check the numbers on NH (probably the loosest laws)....

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

@jerv That’s funny, I was actually driving through NH when I thought of this question! I’d be interested to see the statistics for that state.

jerv's avatar

@ParaParaYukiko Well, if I read this right, then NH had the second lowest highway fatality rate in the US in 2006; only Massachusetts was better.

Then again, NH is a weird place. NH has pretty lax gun laws and yet has a lower gun-related violence rate than Japan where guns are practically illegal!

That raises an interesting point; it matters less what the law says than how people are. People in NH are generally decent so they don’t need onerous laws to get them to do the right thing or not do the wrong thing.

Zaku's avatar

People who believe in (or are even righteous about) the “need” to “force” (or legally compel, or punish) people to be more safe… I do not relate to!

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