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Myths and Facts About Seat Belts

MYTH: Seat belts are uncomfortable or inconvenient.

FACT: Initially people may find seat belts uncomfortable, confining or inconvenient simply because they're not used to wearing them. Those people who have made buckling up a habit can testify that once their use does become a habit, there is no discomfort or inconvenience. It can't be overemphasized that the serious discomfort and inconvenience of motor vehicle crash injury in no way compares to the imaginary discomfort or the inconvenience you may think you feel wearing a seat belt the first few times.

MYTH: The seat belts in my car don't work.

FACT: It's important that everyone realizes that newer shoulder belts are made so that you can move comfortably but they will still lock up during sudden stops or crashes. Many people mistake this freedom of movement as a broken mechanism. Newer shoulder belts are designed to lock up only when the car changes speed or direction suddenly, not when the occupant changes position.

MYTH: Drivers in air bag-equipped vehicles don't need to wear seat belts.

FACT: Air bags provide supplemental protection in frontal crashes, but motorists can slide under them if they are not wearing a seat belt. In addition, air bags will not help in side or rear impact or rollover crashes. Motorists should wear a seat belt for protection in all types of crashes.

MYTH: I don't want to be trapped in a fire or underwater.

FACT: Crashes involving fire or water happen in only 1/2 of one percent of all crashes. So it doesn't happen often. However, when they do occur the best chance of survival rests in remaining conscious, uninjured, and in full possession of your faculties. The greatest danger is with the impact that precedes the fire or submersion in water. If you're not using a seat belt, it's very likely that you will be knocked unconscious or severely injured. If you're belted, it's very likely you will be able to unbuckle yourself and get out of a potential fire or submerged car situation.

MYTH: I'd rather be thrown clear in a crash.

FACT: Being thrown safely clear in a crash is almost impossible. When you're thrown, you may be thrown through the windshield, scraped along the pavement, or even crushed by your own vehicle or another one. The idea of being thrown from a car and gently landing in a grassy area beside the road is pure fantasy. Your best bet in a crash is to stay inside the vehicle, securely held by your seat belt.

MYTH: Seat belts can hurt you in a crash.

FACT: Properly worn seat belts seldom cause injuries. If they do, the injuries are usually surface bruises and are generally less severe than would have been the case without any belt. Without seat belts, you could have been thrown out of the vehicle and severely injured. It is true that sometimes the force of a crash is so great that nothing could have prevented injuries. Studies have consistently shown that injuries in most serious crashes would have been much more severe had seat belts not been worn.

MYTH: I'm not going far and I won't be going fast.

FACT: This is the comment that so many people living in rural areas use when asked why they do not buckle up. It's important to remember that most crash deaths occur within 25 miles of home and at speeds of less than 40 miles per hour. This emphasizes that everyday driving from just one neighbor's home to another, to school, or to the corner store poses the greatest danger.

MYTH: The chance that I'll have an accident is so small, those things only happen to other people.

FACT: This is an attitude that is universal to everything we do. It's comfortable to think that accidents only happen to other people. However, one out of three people will be seriously injured in a car crash sometime during their lives. This is really a significant risk. We never know when it will occur or how it will occur. The answer -- buckle up every trip, every time.

MYTH: I'm a good driver, it won't happen to me.

FACT: You may be a good driver but you cannot always control the other drivers on the road. The statistics related to motor vehicle crashes and drunk drivers are devastating. Even if you are driving defensively, a drunk driver coming around the next curve may not be. Again, you never know what might happen. Play it safe. Buckle up every trip, every time.