Worn properly, seat belts are your best protection against injury in a crash. More than 90 percent of Americans wear seat belts, and the few who don’t are vulnerable. Approximately half of vehicle occupants killed are not wearing one. For 16- to 24-year-olds, seat belt use is significantly lower than other age groups. Unfortunately, teens and young adults also have a higher risk of a crash due to driver inexperience and impaired driving such as texting, or distraction by friends or radio.
Seatbelts effectively keep you in your seat. This has two benefits. First, you are not thrown from the vehicle or into the windshield or steering wheel. Second, you have more control of the steering wheel when buckled in, and you may be able to recover control of the vehicle if it’s sliding. This is not possible if you are being thrown around. Seatbelts being worn by passengers prevent them from being thrown into the driver or injuring or distracting the driver.
Air bags also help reduce injury in crashes, but only when used with the seat belts. In addition, due to the force of air bags in a crash, children should ride in the back seat of a vehicle until they are at least 13 years old.
What about on the job? Even if OSHA does not have a seatbelt rule for each specific piece of equipment, they defer to the manufacturer. Manufacturers require seat belts to be used by operators, it’s in their operators manuals. To give someone a ride in a vehicle, there must be a seat and seatbelt for each person, and it must be used.
Things to look out for:
- Damage to the seatbelt – strap, buckle, retractor
- Modifications to the seatbelt
- Riders putting the shoulder strap under their arm
- People buckling the seatbelt when no one is in the vehicle – obvious sign that driver does not where a seatbelt.
Our policy at Delta is that every person wear a seatbelt when riding or driving. No one is allowed to ride in the bed of a pickup or on any vehicle that does not have a seat or a belt.
At home, use an appropriately sized car seat for children and verify that it is properly attached. Encourage all family members to wear seat belts anytime they ride in a car.