POSTED: Friday, May 3, 2013 - 12:45pm
UPDATED: Friday, May 3, 2013 - 12:49pm
BATON ROUGE, LA — Through the course of their career, Troopers hear every excuse imaginable for a driver's behavior while behind the wheel. Among these, Troopers find seatbelt misconceptions and myths are widespread.
Below are a few of the most commonly heard seatbelt excuses and the factual answers.
“Why are the police so intent on writing seatbelt tickets?”
--The answer is simple. Seatbelts save lives!! They protect not only the driver, but other passengers inside that vehicle.
“I’m just going around the corner, so I don’t need my seatbelt.”
--Nothing could be further from the truth. 85% of crashes occur within 5 miles from the driver’s residence. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, we live here; therefore, it makes sense that we do the majority of our driving in and around our area of residence. Second, drivers tend to become complacent when driving on roadways that are very familiar. Drivers are creatures of habit. Think of how you drive in another area where you’ve never driven. Drivers tend to pay more attention to the roadway when they are NOT familiar with it.
“If I wear my seatbelt, I will be trapped if my vehicle ends up in the water.”
--There are numerous misconceptions regarding cars crashing into the water. When a vehicle strikes the water, it has the same impact has hitting a stationary wall. If you are not wearing your seatbelt, you are more likely to be thrown around the inside of the cab where you can be knocked unconscious (even when traveling at low speeds). Unconscious occupants cannot escape on their own. Seatbelts are not electric, so there is no danger of a “short” in the system should water come into contact with it. Once you become used to wearing a seatbelt, it becomes second nature to reach down and unbuckle yourself.
“Wearing my seatbelt is uncomfortable.”
--Seatbelts are designed not only for your safety but for your comfort as well. Seatbelts are designed to allow you to reach for some things while driving your car. If the item you need will distract you from driving, it is safer to pull off to the side of the road, or have a passenger reach it for you. Again, once you become used to wearing a seatbelt, it not only becomes second nature to put it on, but it actually feels uncomfortable not to wear one.
“I’m a good driver.”
--Even the best drivers in the world are smart enough to wear their seatbelts. Race car drivers have the best training for what they do. They also race on the best of road surfaces and in the most optimal of weather (often stopping when it does rain). We, on the other hand, drive in all types of weather and on different types of road surfaces. The most important thing to remember is that you never know when you’ll be involved in a crash. No one wakes up in the morning, looks at their calendar, and says “Ok, today is the day I get in my crash.” It is always easier (and less painless) to be prepared every time you ride in a vehicle.
“My car has an air bag.”
--Air bags are SUPPLEMENTAL RESTRAINT SYSTEMS. Supplemental or secondary occupant protection systems such as airbags, shatter proof glass, side impact door beams, collapsible steering columns, etc. are designed to supplement and work in conjunction with the vehicle’s seatbelt. Occupants who are not properly restrained by a seatbelt at the time of impact are often not able to receive the full benefits of these supplemental safety devices.
For every crash (be it very minor or very serious) there are three separate collisions. The Vehicle Collision, the Human Collision, and the Internal Collision.
The Vehicle Collision – This is exactly what it sounds like, a vehicle striking an object. During a collision, a vehicle will come to a violent and sudden stop. If you are traveling at 50 mph and hit a tree, your vehicle will come to a complete stop in a split second. At 30 mph, a vehicle hitting a stationary object will crumple inward about two feet. As the vehicle crushes, it absorbs some of the forces of the collision.
The Human Collision – At the moment of impact, the occupants are still traveling at the vehicle’s speed. When the vehicle stops, the occupants continue to be hurled forward until they make contact with some part of the car. They will strike the steering wheel, dashboard, front window, or back of the front seat. Occupants can also collide with each other, with great force and cause serious injury. Newton’s Law states: Objects in motion will stay in motion until acted upon by opposite forces. This is a rule, not an exception, in car crashes.
The Internal Collision – In a crash, even after the human body has come to a stop, its internal organs are still moving. Suddenly these internal organs slam into other organs or the skeletal system. This “Internal Collision” is what often causes serious injury or death.
The proper use of occupant protection systems including seatbelts and air bags can greatly decrease an occupant’s chance of death and may greatly reduce the extent of injury. Louisiana law requires every vehicle occupant, front seat and back seat, to be properly restrained day or night. Taking the time to buckle up every trip and every time is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.