There are two types of seat belt laws, primary and secondary. Primary seat belt laws allow you to be pulled over and ticketed. In contrast, secondary laws enable an officer to pull you over for a different traffic violation and then cite you for not having your seat belt on.
Most states require seat belts for both drivers and passengers. According to United Tires’s seat belt statistics, in 2017, seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved the lives of 328 people in Virginia. And across the country, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives.
Despite these statistics, many people continue neglecting their safety belts while driving. Below, we expose seven common myths drivers and passengers use to justify not wearing their seat belts.
Myth #1: Seat Belts Are Uncomfortable
According to research conducted by the Transportation Safety Board, when drivers correctly adjust their safety belts, their complaints of discomfort are significantly reduced. More often than not, complaints related to discomfort and movement restriction are heavily influenced by improper seat belt use, not the driver’s prejudice against the safety feature.
Myth #2: Wearing A Seat Belt Only Affects Me
When you don’t wear your seat belt, it affects everybody in the vehicle. Seat belts help motorists maintain body control during a collision. Not wearing your seat belt increases the risk of potential bodily injury to you and any surrounding passengers. More importantly, wearing your safety belt is required by law.
Myth #3: If I Have A Seat-Belt On, I Won’t Be Able To Escape A Crash
The reality of this ill-informed assumption is that seat belts increase your chances of escaping a collision. Safety belts are designed to keep you from being knocked unconscious. It’s much easier to escape a wreck when you are awake and non-disabled than when you’re injured and knocked out cold.
Myth #4: I’d Rather Be Ejected Away From The Wreckage Of An Accident
We’ve all seen movies where our favorite star is miraculously thrown clear of the flaming wreckage of a collision, only to walk away with minor scrapes and bruises. In reality, you’re four times more likely to be fatally injured when thrown from a vehicle.
It is important to get in the habit of wearing your seat belt whenever you drive. Reaching for the safety belt should become second nature when you enter your vehicle.
Myth #5: I Don’t Need to Wear a Seat Belt If I’m Driving Slowly or Not Going Very Far
Even if you’re driving at a low speed or only going a short distance, it’s still important to wear your seat belt. Most fatal car accidents happen close to home and at speeds less than 40mph.
Even at slow speeds, the impact of colliding with an outside force increases your body weight by thousands of pounds of moving energy. This force is so great that you won’t have the strength to brace against it.
Myth #6: I Don’t Need to Wear a Seat Belt If I Have Airbags in My Car
Airbags are designed to supplement seat belts, not replace them. Using both a seat belt and an airbag is the best way to protect yourself in an accident.
Myth #7: I’m Safe As Long As I’m in the Back Seat
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts reduce the risk of death for passenger vehicle occupants by 45 percent. While it’s true that passengers in the back seat are at a lower risk of being injured or killed in a car accident, that doesn’t mean they’re entirely safe. Unrestrained occupants in the back seat can be thrown into restrained occupants in the front seat during a crash, causing serious injuries to all involved.
Now that you are aware of the myths surrounding the use of seat belts, you can educate other drivers about the importance of buckling up whenever they’re on the road.
Seat Belt Laws in Virginia
Seat belt laws in Virginia are pretty straightforward: all passenger vehicle occupants under 18 must be properly restrained no matter where they are sitting while the vehicle is in motion. In addition, under Virginia seat belt law, the driver and their front-seat passengers must be properly restrained regardless of age, and if they are over 18, they can be ticketed for failing to wear a seat belt.
Seat belt use correlates strongly with each state’s laws and enforcement procedures. For instance, South Dakota and Nebraska states don’t require rear seat belt use and only practice secondary enforcement. Consequently, both states fell below the 80% usage rate in 2019. By contrast, over 85% of Virginians wore seat belts in 2019.
Proper Seat Belt Use
Now that we’ve gone over some basics, let’s talk about proper seat belt use. First and foremost, you should always adjust your seat belt to fit snugly against your body. The shoulder belt should be positioned across the chest (not the neck), and lap belts should be placed across the hips (not the stomach).
Seat Belt Related Injuries
While seat belts are designed to protect you in an accident, they can also cause injuries. The most common type of seat belt-related injury is “seat belt syndrome.” This is a catch-all term that describes various injuries caused by wearing seat belts, including bruises, abrasions, and broken bones.
Seat belt syndrome is most commonly seen in rear-end collisions. When a car is hit from behind, the occupants are thrust forward suddenly. If a seat belt does not properly restrain them, they can hit their head or face on the dashboard or steering wheel.
To avoid seat belt syndrome, it’s important to ensure that your seat belt properly restrains you at all times. And, if you’re involved in a rear-end collision, make sure to see a doctor as soon as possible to check for any injuries.
Consequences of Driving Without a Seat Belt
According to the CDC, seat belt safety is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in motor vehicle crashes. So, what exactly are the consequences of driving without a seat belt?
When you don’t wear seat belts, you increase your risk of being ejected from your vehicle during a crash. Not only that, but you also increase the risk of injuring or killing other passengers in the car. Most people who don’t wear seat belts are thrown into those that do, causing serious injuries and even death to all involved.
Remember, seat belts save lives! So please remember to buckle up every time you get in the car.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer at Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci
At Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci, our Virginia car accident lawyers understand the dangers of auto accidents and their impact on families. We have the extensive experience necessary — more than 200 years combined — to guide injury victims through filing a personal injury claim and seek the compensation they deserve. When you choose to have our firm on your side, you can have peace of mind knowing that your case is in good hands.
Learn more about your potential lawsuit. Call our firm today.