As a Seattle personal injury lawyer and Kent car accident attorney I fully understand the devastating consequencesof not wearing a seatbelt. In 63%of car accident fatalities, the victim was not wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred. The importance of seat belts in auto accidents is a well known fact at this point, but with statistics showing that about 17%of the population does not wear seatbelts, I feel compelled to bring up some important information and statistics on the subject.
The first important thing to mention is that wearing a seatbelt is only effective when done properly. Do not tuck the shoulder strap under your arm or behind your back. Doing this not only takes away an important restraining capability of the seatbelt, but could also causeinjuries that otherwise would not have occurred. Similarly, if you have an automatic seatbelt, make sure to buckle in the lap portion. This is essential in protecting yourself against spine, head and neck injuries.
Statistics show that merely wearing a seatbelt properly increasesthe chance of surviving an auto accident by 45%.Not only does the seatbelt protect against fatalities, but it can also go a long way in saving you some money for any injuries that do occur. On average, hospital costs for people who do not wear seatbelts in an auto accident are 50%higher than those that do. By wearing a seatbelt, you can reduce the extent of your injuries, save money on hospital bills, and get back to work faster.
Along with higher medical bills, you may suffer greater penalties by not wearing a seatbelt. In many states, Washington included, there is something known as â€œcomparative negligence,â€? which allows the fault of an accident and the injuries to be divided as the jury seesfit. If you are not at fault in a car accident, but did not have your safety belt on, you could be found partially at fault for the injuries you suffered.
Luckily, the word about the importance of seatbelt safety has been getting out and making a difference over the last 15 years. Current statistics show that about 83%of drivers today use seatbelts, whereas in 1994, the number was around 60%.There is still a lot of room for improvement, however, and certain states have been doing a better job of getting their residents to wear seatbelts.
15 states currently have seatbelt usagerates over 90%.Included in this 15 are the 3 west coast states of
California, Oregon and Washington. Other states have not been fairing nearly as well, however. Massachusetts, Wyoming and New Hampshire are amongst the worst in seatbelt usage, with rates under 70%.Thesestatistics are also backed up by a strong correlation to the types of laws they have. States with seatbelt laws as a primary offense have compliance rates of about 88%while states with seatbelt laws as a secondary offense sit at 75%usage.
There is no reason for anybody to not wear a seatbelt in a car these days with the amount of information available that shows just how important they are to preventing serious injury and death. Take the simple precaution when driving and buckle up fullyâ€”and ensure the safety of other passengers in the car and ask them to do the same.
Jason Epstein is a partner at the Seattle and Bellevue personal injury law firm Premier Law Group. As a Washington injury lawyer, Seattle auto accident attorney and Bellevue car crash lawyer, Jason has fought insurance companies for over 10 years. You can also get his books on Washington auto accidents for free by clicking on the preceding link.