A short trip just down the road to Dunkin Donuts, picking up your kid from the neighbor down the street, or just a casual afternoon drive to spot some local foliage – no need to buckle up for such a trek, right? Wrong, most likely, since most accidents actually occur within 25 miles of home. But that doesn’t stop about 25% of Massachusetts drivers from choosing to drive without a seatbelt, despite their proven record of saving about 15,000 lives every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Data gathered by the University of Massachusetts Traffic Safety Research Program showed that, in a study encompassing 147 different locations and 27,000 vehicles, only 78.2% of Massachusetts drivers report buckling up in a vehicle no matter what the situation. Fortunately, the data does show that seatbelt usage is increasing in Massachusetts, from 67% in 2006 and 74% last year. Still, the only states to report less seatbelt usage than Massachusetts were New Hampshire and South Dakota. Shockingly and unsettlingly, one of the most common groups to admit to not using a seatbelt were commercial truck drivers. The other was men aged 18-34.
Some of the reasons for not buckling up included a lower perception of fear regarding an accident while making short trips. Drivers were more likely to report using a seatbelt while traveling fast and long distances on the highway. Still, some drivers admitted to not using seatbelts simply because they were uncomfortable. For some, the idea of a seatbelt law is an affront to personal liberties. Despite their proven track record of saving lives – including the lives of drivers and passengers – people will still argue that it is their right to decide whether or not they buckle up.
Although there is no federally-mandated seatbelt law, Massachusetts does have laws on the books that state all drivers and passengers 13 years or older must wear a seatbelt unless:
- There is a proven medical condition that makes wearing a seatbelt impossible
- The vehicle was made before July, 1966
- You drive a taxi, livery, bus, tractor, or trucks with a gross weight of over 18,000 pounds
- You are an emergency services personnel driving an emergency vehicle or are a postal worker
Stats about seatbelt usage
- 53% of motor vehicle fatalities in 2009, passengers and drivers, were not wearing seatbelts
- Wearing a seatbelt as a front-seat passenger or driver reduces the risk of death by 45% and reduces the rate of serious injuries by 50%
- Drivers and passengers that don’t wear seatbelts are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. Those who are ejected during a crash die 75% of the time in such incidents.
- Seatbelts have saved an estimated 255,000 lives since 1975.
Click it or risk it
Another known fact about seatbelts is that they prevent passengers from harming other passengers during serious car accidents. Passengers left unbuckled can be tossed around the inside of a car and cause serious damage to other, more responsible, buckled passengers.
Seat belt opponents do have a point about seatbelts – they are a decision. But they are a no-brainer decision. Why would you risk your own life, and the lives of those around you, simply because you don’t want to take five seconds to buckle up?
If you or somebody you love was harmed or killed because somebody decided that wearing a seatbelt was simply too big of a burden, then you are entitled to compensation for the injuries, pain, suffering, or time missed from work as a result. At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 40 years of experiencing litigating a wide range of negligence and personal injury cases. If somebody was at fault for injuries sustained by you or a loved one due to the lack of sense to wear a seatbelt, we will not rest until we get you the justice that you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7. Click below to speak to a live operator.