The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, January 08, 2020 1:00 am

Furthermore ...

The lifesaving imperative of buckling up

Here are three phenomena no one can satisfactorily explain:

• Why Americans have to be begged to vote.

• Why someone would buy a lottery ticket that turns out to be a multimillion-dollar winner and never cash it in.

• And, most puzzling of all, why anyone riding in a motor vehicle with a seat belt would fail to buckle it.

Studies show almost 90% of drivers and front-seat passengers fasten their seat belts, according to Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts. But almost one in four adult passengers in a rear seat fails to regularly buckle up. And it's believed that far lower percentages of taxi and ride-hailing customers, most of whom are rear-seat passengers, use seat belts.

“Last year,” Stateline reported, “803 unbelted rear seat passengers age 8 and over died in crashes, according to a November report by the (Governors Highway Safety Association). More than 400 would have survived had they worn their seat belts.” 

The widespread perception that backseat passengers are safer during a crash has some truth to it, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But unbelted rear-seat passengers are still almost eight times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a crash, Stateline reported. 

Many states still don't require adults riding in rear seats to click their seat belts. Indiana is one of those that does. “Any occupant over the age of 16 found to not be wearing a seat belt can be fined $25 for a first offense,” according to the Keller & Keller law firm website.

Data about ride-hailing passengers is spotty, but Stateline notes a Las Vegas survey that showed only 18% of such riders buckling up.

Though seat belts have saved many thousands of lives, they have yet to save anyone who didn't use them – wherever he or she was sitting.

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