Did you know that every 12 minutes somebody in the United States dies in a traffic collision? In 2006 more than 42,642 people were killed in traffic collisions while another 2.5 million were injured. I cannot think of a better reason for wearing a seatbelt.
What a lot of people do not realize is that there are actually two collisions taking place when you are involved in a traffic collision. Let’s say a car runs into a stationary wall at 55 mph. The first collision occurs between the car and the wall. The second collision is the ‘human collision’, which takes place at the same speed. Remember Newton’s law, "things in motion tend to stay in motion…" This means your head hits the windshield or your chest impacts the steering wheel at 55 mph. A seatbelt can reduce the possibilities of being involved in the "human collision."
Some people believe if they do not wear their seatbelts, they will be ejected from the car in a collision reducing their chances of injury or death. What they do not realize is there is greater chance of being killed if you are ejected. Nationally, in 2001, only 1% of restrained passenger vehicle occupants were ejected compared to 25% of unrestrained occupants. Seventy-five percent of the occupants ejected in traffic collisions were killed. In fact, when a seatbelt is properly worn, the risk of a fatal injury to a front seat passenger is reduced 45%. The risk of a moderate to critical injury is reduced 50%.
In the City of Irvine, in 2005, 34% of the total people killed in passenger vehicle traffic collisions were ejected. Sixty-seven percent of the deceased were not wearing seatbelts or were not properly restrained. Of the vehicles in which an unbelted person was killed, all of the deceased’s belted occupants survived. All who were killed may have suffered minor injuries if they were wearing their seatbelts.
Airbags also help to prevent injuries. Airbags should always be used as a supplement to a seatbelt. Disconnecting an airbag system reduces your chances for survival.
Whether you are going on a long vacation drive, or around the corner to the grocery store, wear your seatbelt. Fifty percent of the fatal traffic collisions in Irvine, in 2005, happened blocks away from the deceased’s residence or place of employment.
Why take an unnecessary risk by not wearing your seatbelt? Just don’t wear your seatbelt because it’s the law, do it for yourself and your family. The Georgia State Paramedics Against Drunk Drivers authored the following:
Do you know what happens in the first fatal second after a car going 55 mph hits a solid object?
- In the first 10th of a second, the front bumper and grille collapse.
- The second 10th finds the hood crumbling, rising and striking the windshield as the spinning rear wheels lift from the ground. Simultaneously, fenders begin wrapping themselves around the solid object. Although the car’s frame has been halted, the rest of the car IS STILL GOING 55 MPH. Instinct causes the driver to stiffen his legs against the crash, and they snap at the knee joint.
- During the third 10th of the second, the steering wheel starts to disintegrate and the steering column aims for the driver’s chest.
- The fourth 10th of the second finds two feet of the car’s front end wrecked, while the rear end still moves at 35 mph. The driver’s body is still traveling at 55 mph.
- In the fifth 10th of a second, the driver is impaled on the steering column, and blood rushes into his lungs.
- The sixth 10th of a second, the impact has built up to the point that the driver’s feet are ripped out of the tightly laced shoes. The brake pedal breaks off. The car frame buckles in the middle. The driver’s head smashes into the windshield as the rear wheels, still spinning, fall back to earth.
- In the seventh 10th of the second, hinges rip loose, doors fly open and the seats break free, striking the driver from behind.
- The seat striking the driver does not bother him because HE IS ALREADY DEAD. The last three 10ths of the second mean NOTHING to the driver.
Prepared by: Motorcycle Officer Jonathan Cherney