Have you ever considered how many lives would have been lost on the roads if it were not for the use of seat belts? Statistics on road safety measures indicates that 63% of those killed in a car accident is due to not wearing a seat belt. Nakahara et al (pp 29), defines a seat belt as a safety tool that is designed to protect a person from experiencing a harmful movement that may result from a car collision or a sudden unexpected stop. According to Jansen (pp 253), a seat belt is designed to prevent injury to a car occupant. It prevents the occupant from hitting the internal parts of a vehicle and this includes the steering wheel, windshield and the dashboard. This paper will focus on naming the reasons why it is important to wear a seat belt while travelling in a vehicle.
Usually when a car is moving, the occupant moves with the speed of the car. When the car is forced to suddenly stop without the attention of the occupant, the person still moves at the same rate the car was moving until something intervenes to stop the occupant’s movement. It is obvious that the things that are going to stop you from moving forward are the internal parts of the vehicle and this includes the steering wheel, dashboard, another passenger or even the front seats in the case of passengers.
Studies by Ichikawa et al (pp 43), indicate that almost 40,000 people die in road accidents which would have been prevented if the victims had worn a seat belt. This has been observed to be one of the major causes of death to most youths that are 35 years and below. The most precarious thing to watch out when wearing a seat belt is checking on how you wear the belt. Jansen (pp 250), indicate that wearing a seat belt correctly is the only sure way of saving your life from an accident.
A proper worn seat belt goes over the shoulder and it should firmly hold the passenger to the seat. Studies also indicate that when a seat belt is not properly worn by a vehicle occupant, it can cause some internal injuries to the party. The seat belt should firmly hold the body so that incase of a collision, the chances of being thrown out of vehicle is minimal. Some people assume that using airbags might help them incase of an accident but the truth of the matter is, without wearing a seat belt, the airbag won’t help much. The reason is that, when an accident occurs, your body will be moved from the original position and you might miss the benefit of the air bag if your body has not been buckled up in a seat belt (Bedard et al, pp 719).
Use of a seat belt increases the chances of survival in any kind of an accident even if it involves being submerged in water. Statistics have proved that those who wear seat belts incur less harm or even come out unharmed when an accident occurs. It also proves that human beings are 4% likely to die when they are thrown out of a car during an accident. Some people believe in themselves so much, as good and competent drivers, and so they see no need of wearing a seat belt. Others assume that because they are driving a short distance, then there is no need of wearing a belt but they are all proved wrong when an unexpected accident happens. It has been estimated that over 70% of car accidents occur within a short distance from the driver’s residence (approximately 5-6 miles).
Another importance of wearing a seat belt is that it helps pregnant women keep the unborn child living (Winston et al, pp 1181). They are usually advised to wear the belt below the abdomen and not against it. Most pregnant women prefer using air bags but what they don’t know is that air bags do not prevent side movements and so to make it more effective; it has to be used with a seat belt.
Many states today are enforcing laws on wearing seat belts when travelling on both long and short distances. The law does not favor any car occupant and this includes even the little children. Most adults assume that little children are not supposed to be belted because it causes discomfort to the child, but they should be aware that life comes before comfort. They are advised to consider protecting life than comfort (Winston et al, pp 1180). To cater for this problem, most modern belts have been designed to give comfort to the wear until you may wonder if it really will protect you when you get involved in an accident.
According to Nakahara et al (pp 30), most passengers have the notion that seat belts will trap them in a vehicle when they need to be saved from an accident especially one that involves a fire accident. Statistics indicate that when an accident occurs, those outside the vehicle are 24% more likely to die than those inside the vehicle and this shows that the best place to be on an occurrence of an accident is inside the vehicle.
From the above observations it can be concluded that use of seat belts is the only way to reduce the number of deaths that are caused by road accidents. This is because they have been designed in a way that it protects you from being thrown out of the vehicle and this means it keeps you inside the vehicle, where the chance of living is great.