40,000 people have died each year
from motor vehicle crashes between 1995 and 2005.
Practically every study has shown that the risk of
serious injury or fatality is reduced by 40 – 55
percent by using safety belts. It only takes a few
seconds to fasten a safety belt, and children learn
by the example set by adults.
requires the use of safety belts, and you should
wear them at all times. In Massachusetts, children
under five years of age, weighing less than 40
pounds must use a child safety seat. A booster seat
is required for children under five and over 40
pounds, and is recommended for older children when
needed to ensure a proper fit of the safety belts.
Most motor vehicle
accidents consist of two impacts. The first is the
actual collision between the vehicles. The second
is when the occupant of the vehicle collides with
the interior of the vehicle or after being ejected.
Most injuries occur during this secondary impact.
Safety belts can reduce the risk of death or serious
injury in the event of a crash:
More than half of the
fatalities of 2004’s crashes were not wearing safety
injuries were the leading cause of death for the age
group 1-34 in the United States in 2005
Child Safety Seats
reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71%
for infants and 54% for children 1-4 years old.
For children 4-7,
booster seats reduce the risk of injury by 59% over
the use of safety belts only.
Air bags, when
combined with the proper use of safety belts provide
increased protection in the event of a frontal
impact. However, there are some guidelines to keep
in mind concerning airbags. Basic airbags deploy
when the vehicle experiences a relatively severe
frontal, or near-frontal collision. They inflate in
about 1/20 of a second, then immediately begin to
deflate. The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration recommends drivers sit at least 10
inches away from the airbag module. Children 12 and
under should be seated in the rear seat area (with
properly fastened safety belts), and a rear-facing
infant carrier should never be placed in the
passenger seat in front of an airbag module.
Properly fastened safety belts help keep occupants
in a position that maximizes the effectiveness of
the airbags, and also help prevent further injury in
the event of further impacts. Bear in mind that no
safety device can prevent an injury in every
instance. There is no substitute for driver
awareness and caution.
Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
Traffic Safety Administration
for Injury Prevention and Control
Goto next month's traffic
safety column . . .