A seat belt is a restraining device installed in a vehicle to prevent or minimize the force of an injury during a crash (“Seat Belts” 5). Although it is also known as a safety belt, the “safety” part is the key issue that is causing much controversy around drivers, manufacturers, and researchers alike. The main idea around the debate is the fact that although research indicates that when seat belts are used properly they save lives, opponents argue that mandating their use can actually cause more harm than good in some cases and is an infringement on personal rights.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for people under 35. Due to the fact that at least 40,000 people die each year in car accidents, the law that mandates seatbelts on all drivers/passengers in vehicles should stay in place. Although Seat Belts have been shown to provide safety to drivers and passengers who use them, not everyone is a fan of the mandatory seat belt laws. Opponents who are against the idea of mandatory seat belt laws say that they might be safer without seat belts and that airbags will protect them.
Many people argue that they may be safer without seat belts. According to the article “Seat Belts” “In high-speed collisions where crash forces are extreme, seat belts have been linked to life-threatening conditions, including cardiac arrests and injuries to the chest, abdomen, or neck” (5). They put forward this idea because they feel that seat belts are causing more harm than good. However, airbags were never made to take the place of a seatbelt, and when worn with a seatbelt, they increase the effectiveness of it by 40%.
Airbags also don’t protect from side-impacts at all so they aren’t safer than seatbelts. Another argument opponents against seatbelts have is that mandatory seatbelt laws are a violation of freedom. They claim that they should have a choice whether or not they should wear a seatbelt when in a vehicle. However, this is not an infringement on freedom. Freedom stops when we get to a point where others may be harmed or killed. As soon as something puts lives in danger, the “right” of freedom disappears thus making mandatory seatbelt laws a non-infringement on freedom.
“Seat belts are the single most effective traffic safety device for preventing death and injury in a vehicle” (“Seat Belt Safety, Seat Belt Laws”). Wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50%. Seat belts save lives and are effective in preventing ejections from a vehicle. While opponents argue that in certain cases it is better to not wear a seatbelt, wearing a seatbelt is usually the safer route. A person will never know what type of accident they might enter and thus can’t prepare for a certain type of accident.
You can’t know whether or not having a seatbelt will save you. It’s better to wear a seatbelt and have a 50% of survival than not wearing a seatbelt and have a 3% chance of being in a situational accident where not having a seat belt will save you. Research shows that “Seat Belts saved more than 75,000 lives from 2004 to 2008” (“Seat Belt Safety, Seat Belt Laws”). Without the mandatory use of seat belts, many lives could be put in danger and this would have negative social and economic effects on society.
49 States in the USA have issued mandatory seat belt laws to promote safe habits and to protect the people. With this law in place, many lives have been saved as people were forced to wear seat belts to properly protect them in crashes. In a crash, there are two types of collisions. These are called, Primary and Secondary collisions. “A Primary Collision is the impact between the vehicle and another vehicle or object. A Secondary Collision refers to the impact of an occupant with some part of the vehicle’s interior, such as the steering wheel, the roof, or the windshield” (“Seat Belts” 2).
Seat Belts are designed to tighten at the appropriate moment, so that they either prevent the second collision or at least minimize the injury potential of the even. Without the mandatory seat belt laws, many people will die in crashes in which simple use of a seat belt could have saved them. Seat Belts are optimal to Vehicle Safety and should be required to be used in every vehicle. Even if you are a very good driver or have never been in an accident, you can never predict what will happen when you’re on the road. Seat Belts can help save the lives of both you and others around you.
With Seat Belts Laws in place, vehicle travel will be a much safer place. Safety is a concern not just with seat belts, but also with many things in life. When driving, safety should be above all and many safety technologies such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, and traction control are in place to protect the people. Seat Belts are the main force that is saving many lives of drivers young and old. Although seat belts provide a good level of safety, the debate over the relative safety of such devices, as well as the rights to passengers to choose whether or not they want to use these devices, is sure to continue.