Whether you’re a passenger up-front riding shotgun in a vehicle, stuck traveling in the backseat of the car, or the driver driving safely down the road, one thing is for certain for all of the people in the vehicle, neglecting to wear a seatbelt while riding in a car is an extremely dangerous activity. So, before your next cruise around town, here are five important facts that you need to know about seatbelt safety.

1. Different States Have Different Laws

Although states each have their own set of different driving laws, most state driving laws require motorists to wear a seatbelt at all times when traveling in a vehicle. As of 2015, eighteen states have passed stringent seat belt laws. From states ranging across the entire nation, including Alabama and Georgia, you can be pulled over and ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt.

The eighteen states that have passed these strict seatbelt laws classify these acts as primary laws governing seatbelt safety. However, if you live in a state that doesn’t have a primary seatbelt law, your state most likely has a secondary seatbelt law. Under a state that has secondary seatbelt laws, a person may be ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt after they are pulled over for any other traffic infraction.

2. Wearing a Seatbelt Can Save Your Life

The simple and split-second decision to not wear your seatbelt could have dire and costly consequences. The following data obtained by The Center for Disease Control has put into perspective how wearing a seatbelt could save your life:

– Wearing a seatbelt reduces crash-related deaths and injury by approximately half.

– As of 2014, seatbelts have saved roughly 12,800 lives.

– Seatbelts are the primary safety source of your vehicle. Your airbags alone won’t provide the best protection during a car accident.

Ultimately, this data verifies that each time that you decide not to wear a seatbelt, you put yourself in harm’s way and you drastically increase your risk of suffering a catastrophic injury when involved in a car accident.

3. Seatbelts Should Be Replaced After a Crash

Seatbelts are generally only manufactured to sustain one impactful car crash. Therefore, after an accident, the seatbelt’s functionality decreases. If the insurance company refuses to pay for a replacement seatbelt after a wreck, consider speaking to an auto accident attorney. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and help you figure out how to get your insurance company to cover your vital expenses, including having a new seatbelt properly installed in your vehicle to optimize your safety behind the wheel.

4. Children Must Be Buckled

Children who are not wearing a seatbelt or restrained properly in a car seat run the risk of being seriously injured. Currently, all fifty states have car seat restraint laws and—with the exception of New Hampshire—seatbelt requirement laws for children.

If for any reason you get into an accident while your child is riding in the car, speak with a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Pediatric medical bills can be expensive and even the smallest car accident can have long term health impacts on a child. A qualified attorney can help you recover the costly medical bills that have accrued because of the accident. Furthermore, they can make sure your child receives compensation for the recovery they deserve.

5. You Can Still Be Penalized For Being In An Accident While Not Wearing Your Seatbelt

If you weren’t wearing your seatbelt at the time you were involved in a car accident, you may be ticketed for a seatbelt violation. If you have been involved in an accident, it is important to speak to an auto accident attorney right away. A qualified attorney can explain the seatbelt laws of your state and more importantly, they can aggressively advocate for you to the insurance company.

The Bottom Line

Accidents happen quickly and unexpectedly. Whether you are a driver or a passenger, your seatbelt is a safety net. That is why it is important that you buckle up each time you get into your vehicle, for wearing a seatbelt could save your life.

Furthermore, after an accident, consider speaking to an auto accident attorney. An auto accident attorney can help you assess the situation, identify potential legal claims, and help you move forward to get what you need to take care of damages and injuries.

Thanks to Benjamin Goodger on flickr for the image used in this post.