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Breaking Down Seatbelt Myths

Since the first laws were put on the books in the 1970s, seatbelts have been saving lives around the world. We’ve broken down some of the most common seatbelt myths to help keep you safe on the road.

Myth #1: Seatbelts will trap you if you’re involved in a crash.

Fact: This myth is often associated with fire- and water-related accidents, which account for less than one-half of one percent of all crashes. Wearing your seat belt can actually prevent you from being knocked unconscious, which can drastically increase your chances of escaping your vehicle after an accident.

Myth #2: My seat belt will hurt me in a crash.

Fact: Properly worn seat belts rarely cause injuries. If they do, they’re usually surface bruises and are generally less severe than they would have been without any belt. Without your seat belt, you can be thrown out of the vehicle and severely injured. It is true that sometimes the force of a crash is so great that nothing could have prevented injuries. Studies have consistently shown that injuries in most serious crashes would have been much more severe had seat belts not been worn.

Myth #3: Seatbelts aren’t needed for short car rides.

Fact: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most traffic-related deaths happen within 25 miles from home and at speeds less than 40 mph.

Myth #4: My airbags will keep me safe if I’m not wearing my seatbelt.

Fact: Airbags are designed to protect a buckled passenger, not an unbuckled one. They provide added protection in frontal crashes, but if you’re not wearing your seatbelt you can actually slide under them, colliding with your dashboard or windshield. Airbags also won’t help in side- or rear-impact or rollover crashes.

Myth #5: Wearing just my lap belt is enough protection.

Fact: The shoulder belt helps keep the upper body in place during a crash. Without the protection of the shoulder belt, the upper body—including the head—may strike whatever is in front of it (the back of the front seat or vehicle dashboard depending on where you are sitting), potentially causing significant injuries.

Sources: Geico and DMV.