November 14th 2020 was the second annual National Seat Belt Day. Most newer cars have a special seat belt safety feature – that annoying beep when you start your car that does not stop until you buckle your seatbelt or a blinking light. With one simple click of a seat belt, lives can be saved and serious injuries can be prevented. The date, Nov. 14, coincides with the 60th anniversary of Volvo’s creation of the three-point seat belt, a major safety innovation that’s been credited with saving millions of lives. The Swedish carmaker created the three-point seat-belt system in 1959 and it has since become the global standard.
Seat belts have been common in America for decades, though widespread use is a more recent occurrence. Seat belt laws vary from state to state, so be sure to be familiar with your state’s laws, as well as the laws of any state you’re visiting. According to the GHSA (Governors Highway Safety Association) , reported seat belt use has skyrocketed in recent years, increasing from 58% in 1994 to 90% in 2018. Meanwhile, refusing to wear a seat belt remains incredibly dangerous, with 47% of passenger fatalities occurring to individuals not wearing seatbelt. The importance of seatbelts cannot be understated. If you are driving in a car with someone who is not wearing a seatbelt, do not be afraid to speak up, and they will thank you for reminding them. According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those ages 1-54 in the U.S, and buckling up reduces that risk by half. The bottom line is that seat belts are undeniably helpful for increasing the safety of drivers and passengers.
Here are some quick facts about the history of seat belts in America:
-In 1968, car manufacturers were required to have seat belts in new cars
-New York was the first state to require primary seat belt use in 1984-35 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have primary seat belt laws
-15 states have secondary laws for adult front seat occupants-Not wearing a seat belt is a primary or secondary offense in 49 American states
-New Hampshire is the only state where adults (18 and over) do not have to wear seat belts
Remember – you are never in too much of a rush to buckle your seat belt. Seatbelts really do save lives and prevent injury. It is also key to make sure that you are wearing your seatbelt correctly so that it will provide the highest level of protection. Seatbelts are to fit snugly – not too tight, not too loose. Fasten the buckle fully and make sure that both straps are where they should be, which is across the chest and hips. Making sure that a seatbelt is in the right place makes a difference in the efficacy and level of protection.