In Arizona, A.R.S. Title 28-909 addresses mandatory use of seat belt. Each front seat occupant must have the lap and shoulder belt properly adjusted and fastened while the vehicle is in motion. If only a lap belt is installed, the lap belt must be properly adjusted, and fastened while the vehicle is in motion. Additionally, passengers under 16 years of age are required to wear seat belts.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts are the single most effective safety device for preventing death and injury in automobile accidents. Wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of car crash injuries by 50 percent. In fact:
- Seat belts saved more than 75,000 lives from 2004 to 2008.
- Forty-two percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2007 were unbelted.
Here are some tips from the National Safety Council for the correct use of seat belts:
• Be sure the belt is snug. Slack allows room for movement before or during the crash, increasing the risk of spinal cord or head injury.
• Be sure the belt is flat. A twisted belt concentrates the stress on a small body area, increasing the likelihood of injury.
• Sit with your seat back upright. If the seat is reclined, you can slide under the belt, strike the dashboard or front seat and increase the possibility of abdominal injuries.
• Sit back deeply in the seat.
• Be sure the belt is snug. Too much slack could result in facial and chest injuries.
• Wear the belt over the shoulder, across the collarbone and diagonally across the chest.
• Do not wear the belt under the arm. The collarbone is strong enough to distribute the crash forces, but the ribs are likely to break and puncture the lungs, heart, liver or spleen that lie beneath them.
• Do not wear the belt in front of the face or neck.
Nota Bene: If you vehicle is equipped with a front air bag, it is absolutely necessary that you wear your seat belt when you are in the front seat. Seat belts and air bags save lives by reducing the forces exerted on the driver and other passengers in a motor vehicle collision. An occupant who is restrained by seat belts and air bags decelerates with the car; unrestrained occupants keep moving forward with no loss of speed until they hit something. If that something is an air bag that is deploying at 200 miles per hour, the occupant could be in more peril than if there were no safety devices in the vehicle.
Jay Ciulla is a Phoenix, Arizona personal injury lawyer who helps people in car accident and wrongful death cases. Call for a free consultation (602) 495-0053.
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