It’s fairly common knowledge that seatbelts are designed to help save your life in the event of a car accident, and every state in the U.S. has a law on the books requiring those in vehicles to wear them. Yet despite all the evidence pointing to the contrary, there are a number of myths or misconceptions about seatbelts that continue to circulate through the sphere of general knowledge. We actually encounter these myths surprisingly often in our practice, so to set the record straight, here are five of the most common myths regarding seatbelts while driving.
1. HAVING AIRBAGS MEANS YOU DON’T NEED A SEATBELT
This far from true. Airbags are actually designed to work in tandem with your seatbelt to protect you. Having one without the other actually dramatically increases the risk of an injury. When you don’t wear your seatbelt, an airbag going off can actually cause you to be injured worse, and even increases the chances of an airbag suddenly becoming deadly. The safest possible combination is to make sure you’re properly wearing your seatbelt and sitting in a position that allows the airbag to do its job uninhibited.
2. YOUR SEATBELT CAN HURT YOU WORSE THAN THE CRASH WOULD
In a crash, everything can cause you harm. There is so much force being exerted in the collision that you’ll likely be thrown in one direction and then another as the energy transfers. You may have seen pictures or heard stories of people who suffered bad bruises or even broken bones from their seatbelt latching and holding them down. While these stories are very much true, the fact of the matter is these injuries are extremely mild compared to what would have happened had that person not been wearing their seatbelt. There have been far more horrifying stories of people being launched through their windshield or suffering catastrophic, life-altering injuries from similar accidents without having that safety belt holding them down.
3. SEATBELTS TRAP YOU IN YOUR VEHICLE
We’ve all seen those movies or TV shows where a character crashes their car into a lake or in a way that causes it to catch fire and then the character can’t escape because their seatbelt has them trapped and they’re unable to fumble down to the latch to get it undone. While these may seem like a horrible story that’s entirely plausible, let’s look at the facts. Less than one-half of one percent of all car accidents ends up with the driver in a vehicle that’s either in water or on fire—an extremely limited number. In most instances, the driver is conscious and can easily free themselves to escape. The real danger isn’t the seatbelt in these cases, it’s the possibility of being knocked unconscious. And if we’re being realistic, the odds of you being knocked unconscious during a car accident actually increase substantially when you are not wearing your seatbelt.
So in conclusion, you’re more likely to die when you drive into a lake or your car catches fire if you aren’t wearing your seatbelt than when you are simply because you’re more likely to be knocked unconscious by not wearing your safety restraint.
4. YOU DON’T NEED A SEATBELT IN LARGE VEHICLES
You drive a monstrous SUV, like a Chevrolet Suburban or a Ford Expedition, so you’re bound to be safer than other cars on the road, right? While it’s true that heavier vehicles have more metal on them, and more metal offers better protection and absorption of blows from collisions, the truth is that you could still get seriously hurt when you’re injured in an accident if you’re not wearing your seatbelt. Wearing a seatbelt in these vehicles actually reduces the chances of a fatal injury by 60 percent in the event of a fatal collision, so even though your large vehicle may have better crash test ratings, you should still make sure you buckle up before setting off.
5. SEATBELTS AREN’T NECESSARY WHEN GOING SLOW
The more comfortable you are while driving, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident. And whenever you’re involved in an accident, the odds of you being seriously injured goes up exponentially when you aren’t wearing a seatbelt. Believe it or not, most fatal crashes occur within 25 miles of your home, and at speeds of 40 miles per hour or less. This means there really is no time in which you shouldn’t buckle your seatbelt when you get into a vehicle.
If you have been hurt in a car accident, our team of Tulsa car accident attorneys is standing by! Call Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC at 918-492-7674 for a case evaluation!