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Seatbelt Safety – Science and Myth

To you seatbelt nay-Sayers please consider the following fact: ‘A crash at 45mph without a seatbelt has the same impact on the human body as falling from a seventh floor window!’

Since the awakening of human consciousness man has achieved incredible feats. Through rapid technological innovation human beings have been able to cast aside genetic limitations. Take for example motor vehicles.

Motor vehicles have become a common aspect of all of our lives; allowing humans to travel at speeds vastly outstripping our natural capabilities. Yet, there is a problem. Humans are not designed to travel at such speeds, meaning the human body is unable to withstand impacts characteristic of motor accidents. Thankfully scientists have a solution! The seatbelt: a simple yet effective invention that, at the sound of risking clichéd, can mean the difference between life and death.

The seatbelt is designed to act as a restraint that keeps a person inside a vehicle in the event of a crash. Modern seatbelts are designed to go across the pelvic and ribcage areas; two of the sturdiest parts of the human body. When one crashes the force of the impact is spread across these areas, thus ensuring no single part of the body bears the full brunt.

With this in mind consider a 55mph car crash. The impact of such a collision causes an average human to fly forward with a force of 3000lbs (1360kg). When wearing a seatbelt this force is exerted onto the sturdier parts of your body. When not wearing a seatbelt the impact is likely to throw you head first into the windshield. Now 3000lbs of pressure is exerted directly onto your skull/spinal area. After this initial impact what will bring you to a halt.

Frequent tragic stories in the paper and eye-opening Think! Adverts on TV act as a constant reminder to belt up. Yet ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) estimates that 200 people annually in the UK die as a result of not wearing a seatbelt. Why would one not do so? In part this can be explained by erroneous logic. Consider these frequently believed myths:

Myth: in an accident it’s better not to wear a seatbelt so that you are thrown clear of the vehicle.

Reality: you are four times more likely to die if you are thrown from a vehicle than if you remain inside. The likelihood of landing on a padded grassy verge unscathed is highly unlikely.

Myth: Seatbelts do more damage than good.

Reality: the likelihood of being killed in a motor vehicle collision reduces by 50% when you wear a seatbelt. Whilst serious injury can come from wearing a seatbelt this is the exception not the rule. Damage from a seatbelt is usually limited to soft tissue damage to the chest and pelvic areas. When one doesn’t wear a seatbelt injuries are likely to include a combination of the following: severe brain or spinal injury, facial disfigurement, severe lacerations, broken bones and internal building.

Myth: a seatbelt could trap me in a burning or sinking car.

Reality: being trapped in a burning or sinking car usually only occurs on the big screen. The likelihood of being involved in such an accident is less than 1%. Even so, the fear of such an accident occurring should not deter you from belting up. By not wearing one you risk being seriously injured thus impairing your ability to escape a vehicle.

Myth: ‘I don’t need to wear a seatbelt; I’m only driving a short distance’
Reality: do I really need to explain this one!

If the risk of serious injury or death is not enough, remember that it is against the law not to wear a seatbelt. Failure to wear one could result in an on the spot fine of a £100, and if prosecuted up to £500.

Furthermore, should you be involved in a non-fault accident and you weren’t wearing a belt, you will lose 25% of your compensation. This is due to ‘contributory negligence’. By not wearing a seatbelt you have acted negligently, without regard for your own personal safety and a court of law will rule that you have contributed to your own injuries.

Considering that as a species we have advanced to the point where motor travel is feasible, it is astounding that people still fail to wear a belt. It equates to a failure in common sense. Driving represents the most dangerous activity we undertake in our daily lives. Don’t risk legal prosecution, loss of compensation and more importantly death or serious injury when it is as simple as clicking in.

Andrew Barratt

If you have been injured in a road traffic accident then we offer a free initial interview in order to review your specific circumstances and assess the viability of your claim. After this, the majority of claims are dealt with on a no win – no fee basis.

Call us now on FREEPHONE 0800 1979 345, or complete our simple enquiry form.