Buckle Up: The Important Role of Seatbelts

When you get in your car in the morning to drive to work, what is the first thing you do? While selecting the radio station and adjusting the AC might seem like the most pressing matters, there is still one thing you should always do first: buckle up!

The Role of Seatbelts

While you’re (hopefully!) familiar with seatbelts, you’ve probably never thought about how they actually work. If you are in a car accident, your vehicle’s inertia, or its resistance to change its speed or direction, suddenly changes when it comes into contact with another vehicle or object, like a tree or guard rail. When this happens, occupants of the vehicle can be thrown or jerked around. The seatbelt prevents this by keeping the occupants in place during the change in inertia. A seatbelt protects from a range of injuries, including:

  • Whiplash
  • Concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Back injuries
  • Retinal detachment and other eye injuries

For instance, if someone is rear-ended, their head could jerk forward and hit the steering wheel if they are not wearing a seatbelt, leading to a TBI.

Seatbelt Statistics

Seatbelts save thousands of lives every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Of the 20,714 car accident victims in 2016, more than half were not wearing their seatbelts. In many of these accidents, a seatbelt might have even made the difference between life and death!

There a few reasons why people might be resistant to seatbelts, despite their clear benefits. For teens in particular, seatbelts might seem unnecessary or uncool. Younger children might not like the hassle of having to be strapped in. Even some adults might find seatbelts unnecessary or inconvenient, and some people believe that seatbelts might actually do more harm than good in the event of an accident.

Seatbelt Myths

For example, one common myth is that if a car becomes submerged underwater or gets caught on fire, a seatbelt prevents people from escaping. This is not true, since seatbelts prevent traumatic injuries and someone who is wearing a seatbelt is less likely to get knocked out during the impact, allowing them to be alert enough to escape a dangerous situation. A similar myth is that it’s better to get thrown out of the car during an accident, but the chances are very slim that someone who is ejected from a vehicle will land in a safe spot. It’s far better to stay inside the car!

While it might be small and not always comfortable, your seatbelt can save your life. Whenever you get into a car, don’t forget to buckle up!


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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