Lying in the morgue or a hospital bed is no fun. Why then do so many travelers refuse to use safety belts when traveling by car' It's time we made many more people belt up. Every 14 seconds someone is injured in a traffic accident in the USA. On average someone dies every thirteen minutes. In fact car crashes are the leading killer of Americans between the ages of 3 and 33. If those statistics had been buckled up, if they had been wearing their seat belts, the chances are they would have escaped serious injury or death. Wearing a seat belt drastically increases your chance of surviving a car crash. Seat belts are the single most effective way of protecting yourself in a motor vehicle. Yet despite the overwhelming evidence 25% of us and perhaps 75% of teens do not. It is time we enforced the wearing of seat belts as an urgent priority. We have come a long way in road safety in a short period of time. In 1983 only 14% of us used our seat belts. By the end of 2002 that figure stood at 75%. Still there is a hardcore of drivers who think that they are somehow invincible or beyond the law. In some countries where penalties are harsher seat belt use is up at 90%. This means that there are literally thousands of Americans who are taking their lives in their hands each day. Their behaviour and disregard for their own safety is costing us all. Even a small percentage increase on our safety belt levels means thousands of needless deaths and horrific injuries prevented. It also means hundreds of thousands of dollars saved in medical expenses. When we look at the arguments put forward by those who insist that they have the right not to wear a seat belt, those arguments fall down one by one. The experience of other countries and by some states is that the only way we will bring down fatalities is by being harsher on those who refuse to listen. At the top of the list against wearing a seat belt stand those who say 'If I choose not to wear my seat belt, that is my affair.' The fact is your choice not to wear a seat belt has an effect on us all. Your decision hits us right in the pocket. Those of us who do the right thing are subsidizing those who don't. Americans are paying $143 billion per year in injury related costs for people who don't wear seat belts. This is made up by emergency medical services, medical treatment and rehabilitation. Choosing not to wear a seat belt means higher health care costs and higher car insurance all round. If more of us wore our seat belts hundreds of millions would be saved in medical and insurance costs. It is a fact that the hospital costs to treat an unbelted crash victim are 50% higher than for those who belted up. Society pays those costs. So those complaining that belt law infringes their personal freedom are, in fact, infringing on the freedom of others. Besides which are our laws on the wearing of seat belts really that more intrusive than many other laws? If you are not wearing a belt you are hurting other people. You are financially harming everyone and in fact may be teaching your children a potentially dangerous lesson.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children. Children see what you do; they mimic it too. By not wearing a seat belt you may well be about to kill the child with whom you are traveling. Research has shown that a restrained driver is three times more likely to restrain a child. If a driver is unbuckled there is only a 24% chance that a child will be restrained in that car. It is a fact too that children mirror adult behaviour. Those who refuse to buckle up are sending out a deadly message to their children. Would you leave a carton of eggs sitting loosely on the front seat of a car? You wouldn't if you didn't want to risk scrambled eggs on your front window. Can you imagine what would happen to a light child if you suddenly braked' Yet parents continue to risk their children's death not to mention horrific facial injuries by not...
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