The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a recent report that examined various aspects of traffic safety based on 2013 data. A major finding from that report was the fact that 49% of the passenger vehicle occupants who died in collisions in 2013 were unrestrained by safety devices such as seat belt. That is almost half of the driver fatalities in 2013 for which restraint use was known. Seat belt use among passengers who suffered fatalities was even worse in 2013. Of those passengers whose restraint use was known, 51 percent of the fatalities were comprised of individuals who were unrestrained.
National seat belt use rate in 2013 was 87 percent, a huge increase over the 58 percent usage rate in 1994. As a result of this sharp increase in seat belt usage rates, the proportion of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes decreased between 2004 and 2013 from 55 percent to 49 percent.
Characteristics of Unrestrained Vehicle Occupants
In 2013, three different age groups constituted 61 percent of the occupants killed in crashes who were not using restraints – ages 13 to 15, 21 to 24, and 25 to 34. Males tend to use safety restraints less often than females; of the fatally injured males whose usage was known, 54 percent were unrestrained, whereas only 41 percent of the same group of women was unrestrained. Pickup truck drivers were more likely to be unrestrained than drivers of other passenger vehicles. Whereas 61 percent of pickup truck drivers who were killed were unrestrained, only 55 percent of SUV drivers, 45 percent of van drivers, and 43 percent of passenger car drivers were similarly unrestrained. An individual’s placement in a vehicle also appears to affect whether he or she is restrained. While 48 percent of front-seat passengers who were killed in 2013 were unrestrained, among those with known restraint use, 60 percent of second-row occupants were unrestrained, also among those with known restraint use.
Seat Belts and Other Safety Restraints Save Lives
The NHTSA has concluded that in 2013, seat belts saved 12,584 lives among passenger vehicle occupants older than the age of five who were involved in vehicle crashes. Other safety measures show similar results. The NHTSA estimates that child restraints saved 263 lives of children under the age of five and frontal air bags saved 2,388 lives of individuals ages 13 and older, based on 2013 data.
Likewise, the NHTSA estimates that seat belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury to those in the front seat of a passenger vehicle by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent. For occupants of light trucks, the statistics are even higher. Seat belt usage reduces the risk of fatal injuries for the occupants of these vehicles by 60 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 65 percent.
Your South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer is Here to Help
If you or a loved one is severely injured or killed in a traffic accident caused by the negligence of another party, you may have a personal injury or wrongful death claim under South Carolina law. These claims can be complex, and are subject to strict time limits. As a result, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney as quickly as possible following the collision at issue. Contact Workers Compensation Lawyers- PLLC today and learn whether you may have a valid personal injury or wrongful death claim.