In 2015, seat belts were credited with saving nearly 14,000 lives and were used by 88.5% of Americans, according to the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Despite seat belts being designed as a safety measure to keep passengers restrained in case of an accident however, these restraints can cause serious injuries to passengers that have a more delicate frame-like children and the elderly.
In an example of elderly drivers being harmed by a seat belt, Pam Sohn, 60, sustained a concussion and back injuries and even had to wear a neck brace after being hit by a Jeep. Sohn told CBS News, “I remember sitting there, and my body was just flipping back and forth. I probably would’ve went through the window or something the way I was moving around had I not had it on yeah, but it didn't do what I thought it would.” So, while the seat belt did indeed keep Sohn from being thrown out of the car, researchers also believe that the seat belt was not the proper fit for Sohn's 5'4 frame, which caused Sohn to be injured. Readers can reasonably conclude from Sohn's situation that had the seat belt been sized for Sohn's size, weight, and age, perhaps she would have been properly restrained to her seat instead of being jostled around during the car crash, thereby avoiding a concussion and back injuries.
Seat Belts Are Not One Size Fits All
Professor John Bolte of Ohio State University College of Medicine, claims that seat belts weren’t originally built with drivers like Sohn in mind. Bolte says that seat belts are designed with the idea to protect a 40-year-old male. This brings Bolte to ask the legitimate question of, “If a car can drive today without a person controlling it, why can’t we have a safety system that can respond to better save someone?”
With this question in mind, Bolte is currently studying cases like Sohn’s and other similar accidents in crash tests to study the amount of force needed to protect those who have smaller and fragile frames. He’s hoping that one day seat belts will be created to adjust to the driver in order to better protect them in case of an accident. Hopefully, factors such as weight, size, and height will all be taken into account in the study for inventing better seat belts.
How To Properly Wear A Seat Belt
There is no denying that wearing a seat belt while driving is a major safety precaution. In fact, the NHTSA reports that if every driver from 1975 to the present time had been wearing a seat belt, nearly 382,000 lives could have been saved. However, the NHTSA also warns that seat belts are only effective if they are properly used. Guidelines state that the lap belt should be safely secured across the hips, not the stomach, and the shoulder strap should be resting in the middle of the driver's chest, on their shoulder and away from their neck.
The number of senior drivers is expected to rise by approximately 65 percent in 2045, putting an even larger percentage of drivers on the road, at risk for serious injuries caused by seat belts. Hopefully, this can be avoided if new seat belts are invented by then. If not, drivers would do well to learn how to properly wear a seat belt, to avoid as much injury as possible, in case they are involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Safety when driving is a serious issue. Though car accidents can't always be avoided, taking as many precautions as possible, such as wearing your seat belt properly, might be able to protect you from some of the more serious injuries sustained in a car collision. "In a 60 mph car crash, not wearing your seat belt is like falling from the 12th floor of a building." If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident, call the Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. We can handle your legal problems while you focus on getting the care and treatment you need to recover from your injuries. Call us today at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free consultation.