According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal crashes in 2011 killed 21,253 passengers. That’s a pretty scary number. In that same year seatbelts saved 11,949 lives. Those are a lot of lives saved from a very quick thing you can do.
Taking a look at the numbers from the NHTSA’s 2011 Data Sheet, you’ll see that the worst thing you can do is neglect to buckle your seat belt. In fatal car accidents in 2011, 77% of passengers who were totally ejected from vehicles were killed. In passenger cars, 19% of fatally injured passengers were ejected (totally or partially) from the vehicle, while 35% of those killed in light trucks were ejected.
Seat belts are the primary effective method of preventing ejections. According to the NHTSA: “in fatal crashes from 2003 through 2007, only 2% of the passengers reported to have been using seat belts in fatal crashes were ejected, while over 35% of the unrestrained occupants were ejected (Factors Related to the Likelihood of a Passenger Vehicle Occupant Being Ejected in a Fatal Crash; DOT HS 811 209). Lap/shoulder seat belts, when used; reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45% and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%. For light-truck occupants, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60% and moderate-to-critical personal injury by 65%. In 2011 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 11,949 lives.”
Additionally, rural areas accounted for 62% of fatalities in which 54% of those passengers were not wearing a seatbelt. An alarming 66% of rural pickup truck occupants killed were not wearing a seat belt—the highest percentage of any passenger vehicle occupants killed among both rural and urban areas.
Passenger car occupant fatalities had the lowest percentage (46%) of unrestrained occupant fatalities in 2011, while pickup truck occupant fatalities, as in previous years, had the highest percent (65%) of unrestrained occupant deaths.
So please, buckle up for safety’s sake, especially if you are in a rural area in a pickup truck.
Source: NHTSA Data Sheet 2011.