Seat Belt (Safety Belt) Usage As An Injury Prevention Measure
Seat belt usage continues to be among the most effective way to avoid a vehicle accident. The benefits of seat belts (that are also called safety belts) are confirmed by statistics at both the national and state (i.e. Illinois) level.
A November 22, 2016 Illinois Department of Transportation news release (“Make Buckling Up a Thanksgiving Tradition”) states:
New observational surveys by IDOT show that the statewide seat belt usage rate for front-seat occupants dropped from 95.2 percent in 2015 to 93 percent in 2016, despite a state law enacted in 2012 that requires all vehicle occupants to wear seat belts. State data show that an estimated 421 lives were saved in Illinois in 2015 because of proper seat belt and child safety seat use.
More than half of all traffic fatalities involve someone not wearing a seat belt, according to IDOT statistics. To encourage every motorist to buckle up and drive sober, hundreds of seat belt enforcement zones, roadside safety checks and saturation patrols will take place during the Thanksgiving holiday period.
Additionally, much national research confirms the safety benefits of seat belt usage. On November 21, 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the press release titled “Seat belt use in U.S. reaches historic 90 percent.” Notable excerpts include:
“The best way folks can protect themselves in their cars is by wearing a seat belt,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Whether you’re a driver or passenger, in the front seat or back, the simple act of wearing a seat belt significantly reduces the risk of fatality and major injury in a crash.”
“Vehicles have many more safety features today than ever before, but there is nothing more important than the simple seat belt,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “We are encouraged by this progress, but with so many people still dying in crashes because they are not wearing their seat belts, we will not rest until we reach 100 percent.”
Another statistic stated in the press release:
Seat belts saved nearly 14,000 lives during 2015 alone and an estimated 345,000 lives since 1975.
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) also provides statistics regarding safety belt benefits. As seen on the “Seat Belts: Get the Facts” page (last updated July 5, 2016):
For adults and older children (who are big enough for seat belts to fit properly ), seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes.2 Yet millions do not buckle up on every trip.3
More than half (range: 53%-59%) of teens (13-19 years) and adults aged 20-44 years who died in crashes in 2014 were unrestrained at the time of the crash.1
Air bags provide added protection but are not a substitute for seat belts. Air bags plus seat belts provide the greatest protection for adults.13
Other statistics from the CDC, as seen on the “Policy Impact: Seat Belts” page (last updated January 21, 2014):
- Seat belts dramatically reduce risk of death and serious injury. Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45%, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%.4
Illinois Seat Belt Laws
Given the widely-acknowledged benefits of safety belt usage, many states have made laws mandating seat belt usage.
Information concerning current Illinois safety belt laws – including the rules regarding child passenger safety – can be found at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Division of Traffic Safety website buckleupillinois.org with a page titled “Illinois Safety Belt Laws.”
Excerpts from this page include the following (as of February 10, 2017):
According to Illinois Law all vehicle occupants, regardless of seating position, are required to use a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt. Fines start at $25 and may vary depending on associated court costs and number of violations.
The Child Passenger Protection Act was enacted to further protect the most vulnerable occupants of vehicles, young children. The fine for failing to properly restrain a child is $75 for the first offense and $200 for the second offense.
Seat Belts Prevent Vehicle Occupant Ejections
One of the most valuable benefits afforded by seat belt usage is that it greatly reduces the possibility of a vehicle occupant being ejected (i.e. when a person is partially or fully thrown) from the vehicle. As seen on the CDC “Policy Impact: Seat Belts” page mentioned above:
Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash. People not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. More than 3 out of 4 people who are ejected during a fatal crash die from their injuries.5
Certain types of crashes are more likely to involve vehicle occupant ejections. Regardless of how such ejections occur, accident injuries that occur due to ejections are often serious in nature due to the force with which the occupant is thrown, and the likelihood that the occupant’s body will likely land in a manner that is (very) physically traumatic.
Vehicle rollover accidents are among crashes in which occupant ejections can occur. [note: on this site, many aspects of rollover accidents – including those that have occurred in DuPage County – are discussed on the “DuPage County Vehicle Rollover Accidents” page.]
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has published information with regard to vehicle rollovers. The page is titled “Epidemiology, Causes and Prevention of Car Rollover Crashes with Ejection.”
The NCBI page cites the following statistics regarding ejections and the severity of resulting injuries:
In a rollover, there is a five-fold increased risk of mortality, if the occupant ejected during the crash. It was also suggested that the fatality rate could be reduced by 70% by effective controlling of ejection in rollover. Another study reported that even in less severe ROCs, two-thirds of the mortalities were attributed to occupant ejection from the vehicle.
Types Of Occupant Ejection Injuries
There are many types of injuries that can occur when a vehicle occupant is ejected. These injuries can vary in severity. Due to the traumatic nature of ejections, many injuries resulting from such accidents are critical injuries, and many can be life-threatening if not fatal in nature.
Potential injuries can include, but are not limited to:
- Head trauma, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Neck and spinal injuries
- Broken ribs and collapsed lungs
- Broken bones and bone fractures
- Serious skin abrasions, lacerations and bruises
- Soft tissue damage
- Internal bleeding
Vehicle Occupant Ejections In DuPage County Accidents
People have been hurt in various DuPage County accidents due to their being ejected from cars and other vehicles.
Accidents – many including fatalities – that have involved ejections and have been summarized in this site occurred on:
- November 15, 2016 – a two-car crash in West Chicago [fatal]
- March 25, 2016 – involving a loss of vehicle control on I-355 near Lombard
As well, a number of motorcyclists have been ejected during motorcycle accidents. These DuPage County motorcycle crashes have happened in a number of areas. Crashes with ejections that have been summarized on this site include a November 25, 2016 crash in Naperville; as well as fatal crashes that occurred on July 14, 2016 in Aurora and a June 11, 2015 crash on I-355 near Downers Grove.
[note: Elman Law Group has a site, Chicago Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, which discusses many aspects of Illinois motorcycle accidents.]
Should You Be Injured In A Vehicle Accident
Vehicle accidents can cause a range of injuries that vary in severity and effect. As seen on this site, DuPage County accident injuries have often been serious in nature – and in some cases have been either life-threatening or fatal.
Should you be injured in such a crash, there are steps you should take to protect both your health as well as your legal rights. These rights include your ability to collect injury compensation if the accident was the fault of another person or entity.
Elman Law Group discusses 10 steps to take after a vehicle accident on the “Steps To Take After An Auto Accident” page.
As mentioned on that page, it is recommended that you get a comprehensive medical exam if you have been injured in an accident. There are many health and legal reasons for this recommendation. The issue is further discussed on the “Getting A Medical Exam After A DuPage County Accident.” As discussed on that page, there have been many accidents after which someone is seriously injured, but is not aware of such injuries for some time after the accident…i.e. some accident injury symptoms are what some call “delayed onset.” A thorough medical examination can check for accident injuries that have occurred but may not yet be apparent. A delay in medical treatment can create a health threat. In some cases such delay in proper health care treatment can become life-threatening if not fatal. Serious injuries with symptoms that may not be apparent for a considerable time period include concussions and other types of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and internal bleeding.
From a legal perspective, it is highly recommended that you speak with an Illinois personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident injury. While many people who have been recently injured in an accident may find this to be inconvenient – or may otherwise wish to delay such a conversation – there are various steps you should quickly take to protect your legal rights and to otherwise help you attain compensation for your accident injuries and other harm that may have occurred. The personal injury lawyer can determine if the filing of a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate. As well, the lawyer can tell you what the statute of limitations is with regard to the applicable type of accident lawsuit. [For those who represent a person who has died due to an accident, filing a wrongful death lawsuit may be warranted.]
Injury Costs and Expenses
Depending upon the characteristics of an accident, there are many types of expenses that can be incurred from any resulting injuries. Typically, medical bills may be (very) high, especially if the injured person does not have health insurance to pay for medical bills. Even for those people who have insurance, bills can be substantial, as many aspects of medical care, including diagnostic tests, medical procedures, and surgeries tend to be expensive. Further increasing out-of-pocket medical costs are:
- costs that aren’t covered
- paramedic and ambulance fees, if applicable
Given these medical costs – as well as other direct and indirect costs discussed below – many people who are injured or otherwise hurt during a vehicle accident seek to obtain injury compensation through the filing of a personal injury lawsuit. Compensation sought in these lawsuits can include many different types. Compensation types can include (but are not limited to) that for:
- Medical costs (past, current and future)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of function
- Lost wages
- Loss of consortium
- Other economic damages
The Elman Law Group, Illinois personal injury lawyers, can provide an overview as to what types of compensation – as well as what amounts – may be reasonably expected given the specific characteristics of the accident, the injuries, and the overall legal and medical situations.
If you were injured in an accident, call Tony Elman, Lead Trial Attorney at the Elman Law Group, at (773) 392-8182 to discuss the accident and see what legal actions – including the filing of a lawsuit – may be appropriate. This discussion is provided free of charge and is confidential in nature.
Elman Law Group, LLC has been handling Illinois personal injury cases for 25+ years, and during this time has handled over 10,000 personal injury cases. Through this extensive experience, the Elman Law Group has built a reputation for its court trial performance. As seen in many of its cases, this successful trial experience may (substantially) increase potential accident injury compensation.
Elman Law Group, LLC handles cases on a “contingency” basis…clients are not charged legal fees unless and until they get money.