When I was a really small child, I can recall my grandfather letting me stand in the seat next to him when he drove. While I loved being that close to him, it was probably not the safest thing to do. And even today, I still have people tell me that seat belts are more of an annoyance and not really very effective.
Let’s put that belief to rest. There is no doubt that mandating the use of seat belts has saved thousands of lives. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that in 2014 the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 12,802 lives in occupants 5 years and older. Unfortunately, nearly half, 49%, of vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death in the U.S. The one simple way to reduce these numbers is to wear a seat belt.
Seat Belt Laws in Georgia
Seat belt laws vary from state-to-state.
In Georgia, drivers and front seat passengers must wear a seat belt (there are some exceptions, including certain delivery vehicles and people with medical waivers). In addition, any passenger between 8-17 years of age in the front or back seat must wear a seat belt. Children under 8 years old are required to be restrained in a child safety seat.
Georgia has adopted what is known as a primary seat belt law. This allows law enforcement officers to pull over a vehicle for no other reason than to ticket a driver if he/she or a passenger required to be wearing a seat belt is not doing so. You can be pulled over even if no other traffic violation has occurred.
While driving down the road in Georgia, you will likely see signs with the slogan “Click It or Ticket” reminding you to buckle up, it’s the law.
How Seat Belts Protect You During an Auto Crash
Seat belts protect drivers and occupants involved in motor vehicle accidents.
- They prevent occupants from being ejected. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that occupants not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. In addition, more than 3 out of 4 people who are ejected during a crash die from their injuries.
- They protect your head and spinal cord by keeping your body from lunging forward and hitting the dash, windshield, or other hard surface.
- They prevent occupants from being thrown around and into each other within the vehicle.
- They fit over your shoulder, rib cage and hips, which can absorb the force of the impact with little or no injury.
Despite all the evidence confirming the safety of seat belts, people still forget to buckle up. Not only does failing to wear a seat belt increase your likelihood of death, it also increases your risk of serious injury, which often results in lengthy recovery times, lost wages due to missing work, and increased medical bills. In addition, insurance companies are likely to make it more difficult for you to fully recover for your injuries if you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of the accident. If you’ve been injured in an accident and have questions about any of this, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.