Beginning in mid-May officials across Southern Nevada began their “Click it or Ticket” Campaign. This campaign includes the Nevada Highway Patrol, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, Henderson Police, and North Las Vegas Police and hopes to target seat belt enforcement, a prevalent issue for Nevada where 382 people lost their lives on roadways in 2021 and 82 people lost their lives on Clark County Roads. Of those deaths, 15 were due to unrestrained vehicle occupants. In addition, failure to wear a seatbelt was blamed for 21.5% of all traffic deaths in the state. However, this points to a nationwide problem and a 2019 study showed that of the 1,600 young adults that died in a motor vehicle accident nationwide, nearly half were not wearing a seatbelt. A 2020 study showed that 51 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States involved unrestrained passengers. Wearing seatbelts would have save an additional 2,550 lives.
Officer Larry Hadfield, a Metro Public Information Officer, explained the reason seatbelts are important as well as the common misconceptions about wearing safety restraints. Officer Hadfield said that many motorists have a false belief that airbag systems can negate the need for a seat belt. However, the safety features of cars are designed with the use of all the safety features in mind, and automobile restraints work by combining all safety elements at the time of a crash. Your seatbelt is the first layer of protection, the airbag the second layer, and the vehicle has a crunch zone that absorbs the impact.
Parents also play an important role in ensuring that children are using the proper, age-appropriate restraints. There are Nevada State rules regarding the appropriate age and weight requirements for booster and car seats. However, there are also transition periods between these phases where parents must decide the proper restraint for their child. It is always important to check that the restraining device is fitting your child properly and sitting correctly on their shoulders and waist. Additionally, if you always use your seatbelt, you set an example to impressionable young children, as well as teens who are more likely to follow in your steps.
More Reasons to Buckle Up and Safety Tips
The above reasons are some of the primary reasons to buckle up, but the list goes on. Seatbelts are the best defense against factors you have little control over on the road such as impaired drivers, distracted drivers, and aggressive drivers. Wearing a seatbelt protects you from being completely ejected which has a high fatality rate. Wearing a seatbelt is just a start, and to ensure the seatbelt is serving its intended purpose, it is important that is fits correctly. The following are the National Highway and Safety Patrols’ guidelines to a good-fitting seatbelt:
- The lap belt and shoulder belt are secured across the pelvis and rib cage, which are better able to withstand crash forces than other parts of your body.
- Place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and away from your neck.
- The lap belt rests across your hips, not your stomach.
- NEVER put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.
- Before you buy a new car, check to see that its seat belts are a good fit for you.
- Ask your dealer about seat belt adjusters, which can help you get the best fit.
- If you need a roomier belt, contact your vehicle manufacturer to obtain seat belt extenders.
- If you drive an older or classic car with lap belts only, check with your vehicle manufacturer about how to retrofit your car with today’s safer lap/shoulder belts.
A common fit issue for seatbelts is for pregnant drivers as is important that the seatbelt is positioned well to maximally protect the driver as well as the unborn child. Doctor’s urge passengers to continue wearing seatbelts throughout the pregnancy and suggest placing the strap across the chest, between your breasts without the strap hitting the neck. It is also best to keep the strap under the belly and never over the top of it. Often it can be more comfortable as well as safer to push the seat further back so there is more space between the belly and the steering wheel. Additionally, it is best to avoid reclining as this can result in too large a gap between your shoulder and the seatbelt. Lastly, many pregnant women believe that they should switch off the airbag option in their car, but this is not recommended by doctors as seatbelts and airbags work hand in hand to ensure safety during a crash.
Lastly, it does not matter how fast you plan on driving or how far you plan to go—seatbelts are essential. “Clicking in” your seatbelt only takes a couple of seconds and could be the difference between escaping serious injury or even death.