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Seatbelt Safety - It's The Stop Not The Speed That Kills!

I was concerned to note recently that public acceptance of using rear seat belts is about 89% and front seat 95% which is a significant number of passengers. This effectively means that about 1 in 10 of vehicle users are not using their rear seat belts which is a real concern  - particularly as the vast majority of rear seat passengers are likely to be children.

Not only is it a legal requirement for a seat belt to be worn it is also potentially a life saving device. In effect when a vehicle stops suddenly as in an accident the passengers continue travelling at the speed before impact. Tests performed show that when a vehicle travelling at 30mph has a frontal impact the rear seat passenger who is not wearing a seatbelt will begin to move forwards as soon the vehicle starts to decelerate and at the point when the vehicle is almost at a standstill the passenger’s head and chest have normally made contact with the vehicle’s interior which in turn causes internal organs to also decelerate.  There is also the risk of being ejected through a window. Where the passenger is restrained the overall effect is that contact with the interior of the vehicle may be avoided altogether or any contact is mitigated. 

It is accepted that in some accidents, depending on speed and area of impact, that seatbelts can cause bruising to the chest and shoulder area and in some circumstances ribs have been fractured.  However it must also be accepted that failure to wear a seatbelt increases the chances significantly of possibly sustaining severe injuries and these injuries can be anything from facial injuries to severe brain injuries and death.  In the cases of the rear seat passengers their failure to wear a seat belt also increases the risk of the front seat passenger, sat in front of them, also sustaining injuries and in high speed impact cases there is a risk that the rear seat passenger may crush the front seat passenger.

Seatbelts are important and everyone who can use them should do so.  That little journey to the shop without your seatbelt could cause you life changing injuries.  Claimants who wish to pursue compensation for injuries sustained in road traffic accidents should also be aware that they risk losing up to 25% of their damages for failing to wear their seatbelt if evidence can be obtained that if they had been wearing their seatbelt their injuries would have been avoided or mitigated.  We have acted for clients who have recovered in excess of £1 million and lost over £200,000 of much needed damages because of failure to wear a seatbelt.

Be aware, be safe and always wear your seatbelt.