By Jennifer Geiger on May 21, 2012
Despite the law and warnings that seat belts save lives, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says people still aren’t wearing them, making high-travel holiday weekends especially dangerous.
According to NHTSA, if all passengers age 5 and older had worn seat belts, 3,341 lives would have been spared in 2010. As with other years, the organization is asking police to ramp up efforts to ticket seat belt scofflaws. The annual Click It or Ticket law enforcement crackdown has resulted in more than 3 million seat belt citations over the last five years, NHTSA reports.
NHTSA says this year’s Click It or Ticket crackdown is specifically targeting drivers who try to fake it. “Our new ad campaign focuses on a move known as the 'fake-a-roony' — quickly and momentarily pulling your belt across your chest when driving past a police car,” it said in a statement.
With Memorial Day weekend on the horizon, NHTSA is renewing its campaign to get people to buckle up by dispelling some common seat belt myths:
The Myth: If your car has airbags, you don't need to use a seat belt.
The Real Deal: Airbags are designed to protect a buckled occupant. When a passenger is unbuckled, airbags become less effective or worse they can become deadly themselves.
The Myth: Seat belts can trap you in a fire or underwater.
The Real Deal: Incidents involving fire or water account for one-half of 1% of all crashes. But more importantly, you can't escape such dangers unless you're conscious. Wearing a seat belt gives you a much greater chance of being conscious and able-bodied.
The Myth: If you're not going far or traveling fast, seat belts aren't necessary.
The Real Deal: Seemingly routine trips can be deceptively dangerous. Most fatal crashes happen within 25 miles from home and at speeds of less than 40 mph.
The Myth: Your seat belt can hurt you in a crash.
The Real Deal: In a crash, everything in your car can cause you harm — your seat belt is one of the few things that can actually save you.
The Myth: Just being in a pickup truck makes you safer than everyone else.
The Real Deal: For SUV, pickup and van occupants, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60%.
The Myth: It's not as essential for guys to wear seat belts; they're much better drivers.
The Real Deal: Young men are most at risk. Among passenger vehicle occupants, men ages 18 to 34, who were killed in fatal crashes, 66% were not buckled. That's the highest of any age group.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer