Drivers and passengers who buckle up are 50 percent more likely to survive serious motor vehicle crashes and avoid injuries, making safety belts the least expensive and most effective way to lower employer costs due to crashes and injuries.
Safety belt laws differ from state to state, but there are adult belt use laws in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Despite this, in 2011, 10,180 people not wearing safety belts were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Encouraging employees to wear their safety belts will greatly increase their chances of surviving a traffic crash, and is the easiest way to lower crash-related costs.
What's the Problem
Who’s Still Not Buckling Up?
In 2011, the overall safety belt use rate was 84 percent, compared to 58 percent in 1994. Experts say safety belts have helped save an additional 11,949 lives over in 2011 and more than 250,000 lives since 1975.
However, 51 percent of fatalities which restraint use were known were reported to be unrestrained. Passengers and pickup drivers are less likely to buckle up than other motorists, and men are less likely to use safety belts than women.
An estimated 3,384 additional lives could have been saved in 2011 if all vehicle occupants over age 5 wore safety belts.
Ejections from Vehicles
Ejection from the vehicle is one of the most serious events that can happen in a crash. In fatal crashes in 2011, 77 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were totally ejected from the vehicle were killed. Seat belts are extremely effective in preventing total ejections, as only 1 percent of the occupants reported to have been using restraints were totally ejected, compared with 31 percent of the unrestrained occupants.
Unrestrained Driving Costs
According to a report by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, safety belts prevent about 11,900 fatalities and 325,000 injuries every year, saving $50 billion in medical care, lost productivity and other injury-related costs. Not wearing a safety belt results in 9,200 avoidable deaths and 143,000 needless injuries nationally. The evidence is overwhelming that safety belts save lives and reduce the severity of injuries. Employers must make a commitment to increasing safety belt use among employees.
The average cost per unrestrained person involved in an on-the-job crash is $27,750.
What You Can Do
How to Buckle Up Safely
A safety belt needs to be properly worn to fully protect the person wearing it.
Implement a Safety Belt Policy
Businesses with a written policy requiring employees to buckle up in a company vehicle or on company business have higher on-the-job safety belt usage. Employees who are in the habit of using a safety belt during work hours also are more likely to buckle up when they are off the clock.
According to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration report, among employees who drive as part of their jobs, the percentage that report wearing safety belts “all the time” (personal and work-related) is higher (86 percent) among those who thought their company had a safety belt use policy than among those who did not (72 percent).
Support the ‘Click It or Ticket’ Campaign
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Memorial Day "Click It or Ticket" campaign occurs each May and combines extensive advertising with stepped up enforcement of the state’s safety belt laws. This is an ideal time for businesses to conduct a safety belt education program and remind employees that buckling up helps prevent serious injury and the chance of receiving an expensive ticket.
State By State Safety Belt Laws
Every state has different laws regarding safety belt use. The NHTSA Summary of Vehicle Occupant Protections Laws provides information on each state’s laws, fines, and requirements.
Safety Belts Save Lives
A December 2009 report from the Department of Transportation and NHTSA concluded that passengers who do not use a safety belt are almost 18 times more likely to be ejected from their vehicle when involved in a crash than occupants who are buckled up. Statistics show 35.3 percent of unrestrained vehicle occupants were ejected, compared with only 2 percent of restrained occupants.
The simple act of wearing a safety belt may very well be the easiest, least expensive and most effective way to prevent traffic deaths and injuries on and off the job. Drivers and passengers who buckle up have a 50 percent better chance of surviving serious traffic collisions and avoiding serious injuries.