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Seat belt use across the country varies significantly

At this point in automotive history, you might think that it is obvious that all drivers and passengers should wear a seat belt any time they get into a consumer vehicle. However, this is far from reality, at least according to research that indicates many areas of the country report significant portions of the driving population do not wear seat belts, or do not wear them consistently.

In 2010, the federal government announced an initiative pushing for at least 92 percent of all drivers in each county in the U.S. to wear seat belts by 2020. Now, more than three-quarters of the way to that deadline, very few counties in the country meet those goals. Some areas of the country, primarily in Texas and in California, already meet the goal, as well as some counties in Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana but most counties fall well below the mark.

Why should we care about seat belt use?

The initiative to increase seat belt use across the country focuses significantly on reducing fatalities in car accidents. When it comes to preventing fatalities, the numbers strongly support seat belt use.

While only about 15 percent of the population does not wear a seat belt when in a vehicle, those who do not wear them account for almost half of all car accident fatalities. Those figures leave little room for alternative interpretations. It is fairly plain to see that those who choose not to buckle up face a much higher risk of dying in a car accident than those who do. 

New York is among the states with high usage rates for seat belts, but no county in the state achieved at least 92 percent seat belt usage by 2017, when the most recent results as of this writing arrived.

When you choose to wear a seat belt, you not only increase your own safety in a potential car accident, you keep others safe as well. A person who experiences a car accident without a seat belt may bounce around the cab of a vehicle, injuring other passengers, or, in some cases, may launch out of a vehicle altogether, possibly striking others nearby, and almost certainly suffering very serious injuries themselves.

You can only account for yourself

Even if you understand the importance of wearing a seat belt when riding in a vehicle, you cannot control how other drivers and passengers choose to ride. Sooner or later, you may experience a serious car accident, even if you drive conscientiously.

If you do suffer injuries in a car accident, don't hesitate to reach out to a personal injury attorney who understands how to defend your rights and protect your priorities. An attorney can help protect you and build a strong claim seeking fair compensation for your related medical costs and other losses.

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