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Unbelted Victims of Car Accidents

The youngest unbelted victims of car accidents are totally blameless


Victims of car accidents who were not seatbelted in are the sacrificial lambs of the highway. Years ago, my work took me into contact with a crusty paramedic who made his views on seatbelts clear with the simple statement that in ten years on the job, he’d never once had to unbuckle a corpse. My friend may have been exaggerating a bit—even people who do wear seatbelts can die in car accidents—but victims of car accidents NOT wearing a seatbelt are far more likely to die or to sustain serious injury than their counterparts who do buckle up.

Statistics show that the simple act of not buckling one’s seatbelt leads to more fatalities that any other driving behavior. This means that victims of car accidents who fail to buckle up are more likely to die than drunk drivers, sleeping drivers, or drivers who chat on their cell phones while negotiating rush hour traffic.

One study of injuries and fatalities of unbelted victims of motor vehicle accidents found that more than sixty percent of traffic fatalities were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the collision that killed them. Furthermore, the cost of hospital care was 50% higher for unbelted victims of motor vehicle crashes than for drivers and passengers who were wearing their safety belts.

Why this discrepancy in survival rates and health care costs? The answer is simple: Ejection. Unbelted victims of car accidents are far more likely to be ejected from their cars. Some people think that this doesn’t sound too bad, that in fact, they’d rather be thrown clear of the accident.

Unfortunately, being thrown clear usually means being thrown through a windshield head first, which can cause devastating brain injuries resulting in death or long term rehabilitation costs. It is because of this strain on the healthcare system that most states have enacted seat belt laws.

So, the next time you get into your car, take that extra second to buckle up. You don’t want to be one of the nameless, tragic unbelted victims of car accidents.

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