State crash data shows seat belt use critical in saving lives

May 23, 2018 by Adam Jones, University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Those involved in auto crashes while not wearing seat belts are 40 times more likely to die than those who buckle up, according to an analysis of state crash records from the past five years.

For the study, University of Alabama researchers at the Center for Advanced Public Safety examined crash records from 2013 through 2017 provided by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, or ALEA.

Crash records showed about one out of every 25 unrestrained motorists involved in a crash will suffer a fatal injury, but only about one out of every 1,000 restrained motorists involved in a crash will have a fatal injury. This means that people are 40 times more likely to be killed without restraints.

One reason for this is those ejected from vehicles during crashes have 50 times the death rate as those who remain in the vehicles, and the probability of being thrown from vehicles increases about 337 times for those not restrained.

"There is no doubt that are the most effective way of reducing the chances of getting killed in a crash," said Dr. David Brown, a research associate at CAPS who led the study. "The chances of avoiding a crash altogether that involves injury over your driving lifetime is very low, so these are not just hypothetical or extreme examples. They are real life-and-death probabilities."

Along with an increased chance of dying in a crash if unrestrained, there is an increased chance of serious injury. About one in seven unrestrained motorists involved in a crash will sustain a serious injury, while only about one in 50 properly restrained motorists will have a serious injury.

The chances of serious for those unrestrained increase by more than a factor of seven. For those who buckle up, nine out of 10 are not injured during a .

Some of the other interesting factors include driver and passenger demographics and other correlations:

  • Those between the ages 17 and 36 are unrestrained significantly more than average.
  • Males are about twice as likely to be unrestrained as females.
  • If all back-seat occupants were properly restrained, it would result in an estimated saving of 62 lives per year in Alabama.
  • Unrestrained are about 2.5 times more likely to have their crashes in the rural areas than in the cities.

Brown said there are many things drivers should do to prevent severe traffic crashes in addition to the use of seatbelts. They include, in the order of ability to prevent fatal crashes:

  • Slowing down, as the probability of fatality doubles for every 10 mph increase.
  • Pulling over to a safe stopping point until distractions, such as cell phones, are resolved.
  • Never driving or riding with anyone who has had any alcohol or who has taken any mind-altering drugs, even if prescribed.
  • Anticipating and avoiding bad weather, especially when coupled with darkness.
  • Watching for deer if traveling just after dark and slowing down.
  • Driving defensively to reduce risk by putting distance between others vehicles, staying out of the blind spots of large trucks and letting aggressive drivers pass.

Explore further: Time to bust the myths about seat belts

Related Stories

Time to bust the myths about seat belts

May 5, 2015

When it comes to wearing seat belts, some motorists incorrectly think they are protected by the size of their vehicle, their seating position or where they are driving, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

1 in 5 US kids killed in crashes not restrained properly

May 24, 2017

(HealthDay)—If parents need more proof that car seats and seat belts save young lives, researchers now report that one in every five children killed in car crashes in the United States was unrestrained or improperly restrained.

Mixing booze and pot is a serious threat to traffic safety

June 12, 2017

June 12, 2017Use of marijuana in combination with alcohol by drivers is especially dangerous, according to a latest study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Drivers who used alcohol, marijuana, ...

Trucks found to be a significant cause of severe accidents

December 6, 2013

Trucks are responsible for 4,500 deaths per year in the United States. Truck crashes also cause huge losses in productivity, property and personal injury. New research just published in the International Journal of Injury ...

Recommended for you

Permanent, wireless self-charging system using NIR band

October 8, 2018

As wearable devices are emerging, there are numerous studies on wireless charging systems. Here, a KAIST research team has developed a permanent, wireless self-charging platform for low-power wearable electronics by converting ...

Facebook launches AI video-calling device 'Portal'

October 8, 2018

Facebook on Monday launched a range of AI-powered video-calling devices, a strategic revolution for the social network giant which is aiming for a slice of the smart speaker market that is currently dominated by Amazon and ...

Artificial enzymes convert solar energy into hydrogen gas

October 4, 2018

In a new scientific article, researchers at Uppsala University describe how, using a completely new method, they have synthesised an artificial enzyme that functions in the metabolism of living cells. These enzymes can utilize ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) May 23, 2018
Common sense ain't all that common.

We are experiencing a major, ideologically driven effort to roll back or do away with regulatory authority.

The altright fairytails and fake libertarians incompetent to differentiate between 'Liberty' and 'license'. Insisting they have the god-given right to be ignorant and act out stupid. And tyrannically impose their dictates upon everybody else.

Frankly and Ernestly, I would approve their efforts to earn themselves a Darwin Award. Unfortunately, too many of them fail to render themselves composted before reproducing. More proof that Big Brain Evolution is a dead-end of futile failure.

Worst of all? These blithering fools wind up killing innocent people. They blithely disregard the devastation their stupidity causes in everybody else's lives. They vehemently deny any responsibility for their destructive actions.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.