Seat belts are an essential component in automotive safety measures. In many jurisdictions, the use of seat belts along with air bags and the use of car seats for children under a certain age and size is mandatory. When it comes to preventing fatalities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States reports that seat belt usage saved the lives of 12,713 people who were among those involved in about 5.5 million crashes in 2009. It is estimated that seat belts can reduce injuries and minimize fatalities by as much as 50 percent, even if other safety features, such as air bags, are not installed.
More facts about seat belts:
- About 85 percent of people in the United States wear their seat belts. Australia, Canada and several European countries report seat belt usage of more than 90 percent.
- In the United States, people who are 18 to 34 years old are less likely to use seat belts than people who are 35 or older. Women also are more diligent in buckling up, with men being roughly 10 percent less likely to put on their seat belts.
- People who live in urban and suburban areas are about 10 percent more likely to use seat belts than people who live in rural areas are.