Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of fatalities and injuries in the United States. Victims of motor vehicle accidents face a wide range of consequences. If a victim survives the accident, the victim often suffers severe brain trauma. Treating severe brain trauma can entail millions of dollars in medical expenses. Both the victim and the victim’s family often feel the burden created by these costs. Additionally, severe brain trauma can leave a victim unable to function normally in both their personal life and professional life. Brain trauma can lead to numerous personality disorders, which might affect a victim’s personal relations. Victims may be physically unable to continue their employment leading to loss of wages. Even in cases where injuries are less severe than brain trauma, victims may find themselves out of work for months at a time.  Thus, victims of motor vehicle accidents may be entitled to significant recovery.


A report published by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that, in 2010, 22,187 occupants of passenger vehicles were fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes. Of the 22,187 total occupants killed, 9,934 were wearing safety belts at the time of the accident. Of the 22,187 occupants killed, the age group 25 to 34 had the highest percentage of unrestrained fatalities. 3,489 occupants in this age group died.


The use of safety belts, child safety seats, and vehicles equipped with frontal airbags can significantly reduce the likelihood of fatality in a motor vehicle accident. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that lap/shoulder seat belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent in front-seat passenger car occupants. Moderate-to-critical injury in those same occupants is reduced by 50%. Child safety seats, when used properly, reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent in the case of children younger than 1 year old and by 54 percent in children 1 to 4 years old.  When the use of safety belts is coupled with the deployment of frontal air bags, the likelihood of fatality is reduced by an additional 14 percent.


According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in fatal crashes in 2010, 78 percent of victims who were totally ejected from the vehicle were killed.  One way in which seat belts are effective at reducing injury and fatality is the reduction of total ejection of the victim of a motor vehicle accident from the vehicle. Only 1 percent of occupants reported to have been wearing a safety belt at the time of a fatal car accident were totally ejected. In contrast, 32 percent of unrestrained occupants were totally ejected.


It is estimated that safety belts saved 12,546 lives of vehicle occupants age 5 and older that were victims of motor vehicle accidents in 2010. If all motor vehicle occupants were wearing seat belts in car accidents that occurred in 2010, an estimated additional 3,341 lives could have been saved. In 2010, frontal airbags are estimated to have saved 2,306 lives.


Adult safety belt use laws are now in effect in 49 States and the District of Columbia.


If you or someone you know has been hurt or killed in a motor vehicle accident, call a Coweta County auto accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Shane Smith at (770)-484-8999 and ask to schedule a free legal consultation.

Shane Smith
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Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia

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