Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of high-visibility enforcement of seat belt laws by law enforcement agencies throughout the nation as part of the 2008 Click It or Ticket campaign. The enforcement period for 2008 runs from May 19 – June 1, with paid media coverage of the campaign running from May 12 – May 26.
As part of this year’s Click It or Ticket event, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following facts regarding seat belt use:
- “When parents travel without their safety belts, their children’s restraint use drops by 36 percentage points.
- In 2004, 55 percent of those killed in passenger vehicles were not wearing safety belts.
- Safety belts are effective in preventing total ejections; only 1 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants reported to have been using restraints in fatal crashes were totally ejected compared with 29 percent of the unrestrained occupants.
- Motor vehicle crashes in 2000 cost a total of $230.6 billion. This equals $820 for each person living in the United States.
- The general public pays nearly three-quarters of all crash costs, primarily through insurance premiums, taxes, delays, and lost productivity.
- The African-American population is expected to increase by 13 percent by 2010, which will significantly increase its exposure to traffic crashes.”
Additionally, the agency offers the following guidance for buckling up the right way:
- “Teenagers and adults of all ages should always wear their safety belts, even on short trips. The lap belt should fit snugly across the upper thighs and not ride up on the stomach. The shoulder part of the belt should fit across the collarbone and chest and not cut into the neck or face.
- Safety belts also provide the best protection for expectant mothers and their unborn children. Pregnant women should place the shoulder belt across the chest – between the breasts – and away from the neck. The lap belt should fit across the hips/pelvis and below the stomach. Never place the shoulder belt behind the back or under the arm. Never place the lap belt on or above the stomach.
- The safest place in a vehicle for children to sit is in the back seat.
- Use rear-facing child safety seats for infants from birth to at least 1 year, and at least 20 pounds. Infants in rear-facing child safety seats must never ride in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger-side airbag.
- Use forward-facing child safety seats for children who are over age 1 and 20 pounds, to about age 4 and 40 pounds.
- Children from age 4 to at least age 8, and under 4′ 9″ tall, who have outgrown forward-facing child safety seats should use booster seats with a lap-shoulder belt. A booster seat raises a child up so that the safety belt fits correctly.
- A child who is age 8 and 4′ 9″ or taller can use a safety belt. The lap belt should rest low and fit snugly across the child’s upper thighs. The shoulder belt should be centered on the shoulder and across the chest. The child should also be able to sit all the way back against the vehicle seat back with his or her knees bent comfortably over the edge of the seat.
- LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) is a system for installing child safety seats (not booster seats, car beds, or vests) without safety belts. Attachments on LATCH-equipped child safety seats fasten to anchors in LATCH-equipped vehicles. Most child safety seats and cars, minivans, and light trucks manufactured after September 1, 2002, are required to have LATCH. If your child’s safety seat is not LATCH-equipped, it is still safe if: it has been correctly installed using a safety belt; it hasn’t been recalled; and it hasn’t been damaged in a crash. Child safety seats that are not LATCH-equipped should be installed using safety belts, even in LATCH-equipped vehicles. For a child safety seat inspection by a certified technician, call 866-732-8243 (866-SEAT-CHECK) or visit www.seatcheck.org.
- Remember: All children age 12 and under should ride in the back seat.”
Previously on the DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:
- New research indicating that seat belt use by pregnant women saves fetuses
- Why teens face a higher death risk than most passengers in traffic accidents
- Myth vs. Fact: The importance of seat belt use among truck drivers
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