Hard Facts- Seat Belts Save Lives

Seat belts save almost 13,000 lives a year. Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use. Only 53 percent of high school students reported always wearing a seat belt when riding with someone else.

Worn properly, seat belts are your best protection against injury in a crash. That’s why 49 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring people riding in cars to wear seat belts. Only New Hampshire lacks a seat belt law.

More than 90 percent of Americans wear seat belts, and the few who don’t are vulnerable. More than half of vehicle occupants killed in 2012 were not wearing one(Injury Facts 2015). For 16- to 24-year-olds, seat belt use is significantly lower than other age groups. Unfortunately, teens and young adults also have a higher risk of a crash due to driver inexperience and impaired driving. For information about teens and seat belts, visit driveithome.org.

Air bags also help reduce injury in crashes, but only when used with seat belts. In addition, due to the force of air bags in a crash, children should ride in the back seat of a vehicle until they are at least 13 years old.

Top Tips

Use a booster seat with the vehicle lap AND shoulder safety belts until your child passes the following Safety Belt Fit Test:

  1. Be sure your kids are ready for a seat belt by giving them the following Safety Belt Fit Test:
    • Your children's knees should bend at the edge of the seat when their backs and bottoms are against the vehicle seat back; and
    • The vehicle lap belt should fit across the upper thighs; and
    • The shoulder belt should fit across the shoulder and chest. Children are usually between 8 and 12 years old when the seat belt fits them properly.
*Information from Safe Kids and the National Safety Council