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Safety Seat Fact Sheet

  Safety Belt Facts

  • Safety belts are the single most effective safety device for preventing death and injury, estimated to have saved 12,584 lives among passenger vehicle occupants age 5 and older in the United States in 2013.²
  • If 90 percent of motorists on our nation’s roads buckled up, 1,600 additional fatalities and 22,000 additional serious injuries could be prevented each year. In South Carolina alone, an estimated 108 additional lives and 1,006 additional serious injuries could be saved (a monetary savings of $247 million).³
  • Every hour, at least one person dies in this country because he or she didn’t buckle up. Failure to use a seat belt contributes to more fatalities than any other single traffic-related behavior.
  • Research has found that proper use of lap/shoulder belts reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent (for occupants of light trucks, 60 and 65 percent respectively).4
  • To get the most benefit out of your safety belt, you should wear it low over the pelvis with the bottom edge touching the tops of the thighs. The shoulder belt should be worn over the shoulder and across the chest, not under the arm and over the abdomen. Make certain that the shoulder belt is not worn so loosely that it slides off the shoulder. Pregnant women should wear the lap belt below the abdomen and the shoulder belt above the belly.
  • Even if your car has airbags, always wear you safety belt. Airbags are supplemental restraint systems designed to work with safety belts, not in place of them. They help protect adults in a frontal crash, but they do not provide protection in side and rear impact crashes or in rollovers.
  • Fear of entrapment during vehicle fire or submersion is not a valid reason for not wearing seat belts. Only one-half of one percent of all crashes ends in fire or submersion. Most crash fatalities result from the force of impact or from being thrown from the vehicle, not from becoming trapped inside the vehicle. Ejected occupants are four times as likely to be killed as those who remain inside the vehicle.
  • Safety belts should be worn at all times, even on short trips close to home. Three out of four fatal crashes occur within 25 miles of the crash victim's home. Most crashes causing death or injury occur at speeds below 40 miles per hour.

    Child Safety Seat Facts

  • In South Carolina, during 2014, 11,877 children under age six were occupants of a vehicle involved in a traffic collision, an increase of 3.4 percent from 2013; 11 of those children were killed. Only 7 of the 11 children were in a child safety seat.1
  • Child safety seats, if used correctly in passenger cars, reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. In light trucks, the corresponding reductions are 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively. Only about 15 percent of people in South Carolina use child restrains properly, however.5
  • Observations conducted in 2012 showed that if a driver is wearing a seat belt, 91 percent of the time toddlers will also be restrained. If the driver is not wearing a seat belt, however, only 68 percent of the time will toddlers be restrained.6

1State Traffic Collision Master File, 2014 preliminary data.

2National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Safety Facts, 2013 Data (2015, April). Lives Saved in 2013 by Restraint Use and Minimum Drinking Age Laws. (Report No. DOT HS 812 137)

4,&5 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Safety Facts, 2012 Data (2014, March). Occupant Protection. (Report No. DOT HS 811 892).

3 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Safety Facts, Research Note (2009, May). The increase in lives saved, injuries prevented, and cost savings if seat belt use rose to at least 90 percent in all states. (Report No. DOT HS 811 140).

6Pickrell, T.M., & Liu, C. (2015, January). Occupant restraint use in 2013: results from the NOPUS controlled intersection study. (Report No. DOT HS 812 080). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.