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Seat Belts Do Save Lives

Motor vehicles are the leading cause of death among people age 1-54 in the United States. For adults and older children (who are big enough for seat belts to fit properly), seat belts are the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes. Seat belts reduce serious crash related injuries and deaths by about half. Airbags give added protection but are not a substitute for seat belts. The combination of seat belts and airbags give the most protection. Yet millions of people do not buckle up on a regular basis.

A total of 21,022 people were killed in 2014 in passenger vehicle accidents nationwide. In these crashes more than half of teens (13-19 years old) and adults (aged 20-44) were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash. It is estimated that seat belts saved 12,802 lives in 2014. More than 2.3 million drivers and passengers were injured and then treated in the emergency department in 2014. Non-fatal crash injuries resulted in more than 45 billion dollars in medical and work loss cost in 2013. Of these, young adult drivers and passengers (age 18-24) have the highest crash related non-fatal injury rate of all adults and are the least likely to wear seat belts than older age groups. Men are less likely than women to wear seat belts and adults who live in non-metropolitan areas are less likely to wear seat belts compared to people who live in the city.

Nebraska statistics 2015:
-In Nebraska one collision occurs every 15 minutes. Thirty one people were injured each day and one person was killed every 36 hours.
-246 people died and 16,806 were injured in traffic crashes in 2015. Of the fatalities only 26% were wearing their seat belts.
-35% of the fatalities were rollovers.
-Motor vehicle crashes cost Nebraska over $839,549,000 in 2015.
-Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among ages 5-34.

The observed seat belt rate in Nebraska is 79.9% compared to nationally 86%.

What can we do to improve our chance of survival in a crash?
-Use seat belts on every trip, no matter how short. Make this a habit.
-Make sure all children are properly buckled in a car seat, booster seat or seat belt, whichever is appropriated for their age, height and weight.
-Children age 12 and under need to sit properly buckled in the back seat. The safest place is in the middle back seat.
-Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front of an airbag.

Remember that wearing your seat belt and properly buckling children into their safety seats can reduce the risk of serious injury and death in a crash by half.

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