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Safety Belt Statistics

  • One out of every five drivers will be involved in a traffic crash this year.

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among people age 44 and younger and the number one cause of head and spinal cord injury.

  • Approximately 35,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes each year. About 50 percent (17,000) of these people could be saved if they wore their safety belts.

  • More than 90 percent of all motorists believe safety belts are good idea, but less than 14 percent actually use them.

  • For every one percent increase in safety belt use, 172 lives and close to $100 million in annual injury and death costs could be saved.

  • Safety belts when used properly reduce the number of serious traffic injuries by 50 percent and fatalities by 60-70 percent.

  • For maximum protection safety belts should be fastened before traveling any distance or speed. Seventy-five percent of crash deaths and injuries occur within 25 miles of home. More than half of all injury-producing motor vehicle crashes involve low speeds under 40 m.p.h.

  • Motorists are 25 times are more likely to be killed or seriously injured when they are "thrown clear" than when remain inside their vehicle.

  • In a 30 m.p.h. collision an unbelted 160 lb. Person can strike another passenger, crash through a windshield and/or slam into the vehicle's interior with a 4,800 lb. force.

  • Motorists can increase safety belt usage by example and verbal reminders. Nine out of 10 people buckle up when asked.

  • Safety belt use is one of the best defenses against the unpredictable actions of the drunk driver.

  • Today over 25 countries around the world have some type of mandatory safety belt law. Results of these laws were measured; usage rate went from 20-25 percent before passage to 60-90 percent after passage.

  • A common cause of death and injury to children in motor vehicles is being crushed by adults who are not wearing safety belts. On out of four serious injuries to passengers is caused by occupants being thrown into each other.

  • About 80 percent of all injuries to children in car crashes are injuries to the head, causing brain damage, permanent disfigurement, epilepsy or death.

  • Of every 100 children who die in motor vehicle crashes at least 80 would survive if they were properly secured in an approved child safety seat or safety belts.

  • Three out of four families with child safety seats fail to use them correctly. Adults need to follow manufacturer's instructions and secure seats properly before every trip.

  • An estimated 80 percent of American children area immunized against contagious diseases, but less than 10 percent are properly restrained when riding in a motor vehicle.

For additional copies of this fact sheet or information on data sources contact the Public Information Office, Division of Motor Vehicles, P.O. Box 27412, Richmond, VA 23269, (804) 257-0041.

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