The invention of the modern seat belt changed the face of the auto industry, and has prevented millions of deaths and serious injuries worldwide. Yet, according to the CDC, only 86% of Americans wear their seat belt, and auto accidents remain the biggest cause of death in the United States for children and adults under age 54. Ensure each passenger wears his or her seat belt in your car on every single trip, no matter how short the drive.
Children: Children should ride in the back seat of a vehicle until at least age 13, and should learn to buckle up every time they are in a moving vehicle. Before driving, do a quick check to make sure every child in your vehicle is buckled up. Even the most reliable child may forget if he or she is distracted, so an adult should always double-check. Children are old enough to use a regular seat belt when they have outgrown their booster seat, usually sometime between the age 8 and 12, when their legs bend normally over the seat, their feet lie flat on the floor of the vehicle, and when the seat belt fits over their lap (never their stomach) and lies against their shoulder (never the neck or facial area).
Teens and Young Adults: Auto fatalities are highest in the 16-24 year age range, according to safecar.gov, with 53% of teenagers involved in fatal crashes not wearing seat belts. Unfortunately, not all young drivers can be trusted to buckle up even if an adult modeled excellent seat belt usage, making it important to remind your teen of how important it is. Share the laws of your state with them, as well as the laws for child safety restraints if there is a chance they will be driving with a child in the vehicle. Teenage drivers are also less likely to require other passengers to buckle up, and are more prone to distracted driving. Although alarming, sharing statistics with your teenager about the dangers of distracted driving, as well as the rates of auto fatalities in their age group, may be one of the best ways to help them understand the importance of safe driving.
Adults: An adult should wear a seat belt every time they are in a moving vehicle. The lap belt should go over the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt should run from the shoulder to the hip – never across the neck. If the belts in your vehicle don’t fit properly, consider seat belt adjusters. No one, at any age, should put the shoulder belt behind their back, as serious bodily injury may occur in an accident.
The key is to never take “no” for an answer when it comes to every passenger in your vehicle wearing his or her seat belt. It is especially important to model this non-negotiable attitude in front of kids and young adults – whether they be tweens, high schoolers, or even college-aged. Children and teens will always take their cues from adult examples, and if they see adults skipping their own seat belts, even for a short trip, they will get the silent message that seat belts are optional.
Would you like to test your seat belt IQ? See this quiz!
Turk’s Collision Center is located in Peoria, Illinois, and is a state-of-the-art collision repair shop achieving I-Car Gold status. Our A.S.E. certified technicians are dedicated to restoring your vehicle to its pre-accident condition, and all repairs come with a lifetime warranty. Find out more by visiting our website or by calling (309) 694-2905!