Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but it is never too late to show your love by making sure that before you start your vehicle, all passengers — big and small — are always buckled up correctly. Taking those few seconds to buckle your children into their car seats, and making sure older children and adults are buckled up, is the most crucial step you can take to protect those you love in a crash. Those few seconds can save your family and friends from having to go through a needless tragedy.
Fortunately, most Texans now buckle up, but some groups of motorists continue not taking the message to heart by not consistently using their seat belts. And, unfortunately, most children are not correctly restrained in a car seat. Use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to make sure all of your passengers are safely buckled up, and if you know someone who doesn’t wear their seat belt, use Valentine’s Day to remind them!
Here are some interesting things you may not know about buckling up that could help keep your Valentine safe:
Most crashes happen close to home. Therefore, buckling up is important on every trip — not just on long highway trips. Going around the corner to the grocery store is not an excuse to take a chance on not buckling up. In fact, most children are killed close to home.
Children should ride in the back seat until they reach the age of 13. Until a child reaches age 13, their bones are not fully developed. They do not have a mature skeleton that can take the forces of the most common type of car crash, which is a frontal crash. Placing a child whose bones are not yet strong enough in the front seat, where there is the windshield, dashboard, and air bags, puts them at greater risk of injury or death during a crash.
Pickup trucks, while big and strong, are twice as likely to rollover in a crash due to their higher center of gravity. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying in a crash up to 60 percent in a pickup truck. Sadly, the seat belt use rate for pickup truck drivers and passengers is lower than in passenger vehicles. It is important to always make sure that the driver and every passenger in a pickup truck is buckled up.
Buckling up is not just for the daytime. Between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. is when more crashes and fatalities happen. Crash stats from the Texas Department of Transportation show that the majority (57 percent) of fatal crashes in Texas happen at night. In 2017, of all Texas crashes in which people died and weren’t wearing a seat belt, 57 percent occurred at night. It is important to wear your seat belt, day and night, to be protected in the event of a crash.
Unbuckled passengers are also dangerous to others in the vehicle. In the event of a crash, the unbuckled passenger becomes a large projectile flying around the vehicle, who can injure or kill other occupants in the vehicle — including those who are buckled up!
In 2016 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 14,668 lives and could have saved an additional 2,456 people if they had been wearing a seat belt. That’s why Leticia Hardy, Family and Community Health Educator in Fort Bend County, is urging you to make sure all of those you love are safely buckled up every time, on every trip! Remember: If you love it, click it!
– Bev Kellner, Program Manager
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Passenger Safety