Seat belt statistics clearly show that wearing a seat belt saves lives. Luckily, the rate of seat belt usage grew in the last 15 years. A rough estimate is that 17,452 people died from not buckling up, and if they had, most of them would’ve lived.
These are just some numbers that point to the importance of seat belts and many other statistics that show how important it is to use them.
If you’re a driver who ignores the seat belt, read these facts and stats below. They can literally save your life, even while you’re using Uber or Lyft.
Seat Belt Safety Statistics and Numbers (Editor’s Choice)
- The first iteration of the three-point seat belt occurred in 1955
- In 2019, victims 15–20 didn’t wear a seatbelt in over 45% of US motor vehicle fatalities
- Car crashes are a leading cause of death for people under 25
- Georgia is the state with the highest seat belt usage — 97.10%
- Seat belt can reduce moderate to critical injuries by 50%
- People can name around 15 reasons why they don’t use a seatbelt
- Every year, three million Americans experience seatbelt failure injuries
- Nearly 2,500 US teenagers lost their lives on the road
Seat Belt Facts
Seat belts were primarily used by pilots in gliders, but people quickly realized how essential they could be to saving lives. Those who patented them actually went so far that they gave them to the world for free.
1. The first form of seat belt was invented back in the 1800s
These seat belts were far from what people use today in their cars. George Cayley was the first man to consider making pilots safe in their gliders by introducing some type of seat belt. However, in 1855, Edward J. Claghorn patented his kind. Those were used in New York cabs to keep passengers safe. But, according to the seat belt article, they weren’t widely used until the US emergency physicians started testing out their efficacy in the 1930s.
2. The first iteration of the three-point seat belt took place in 1955
In 1955, two Americans, Roger W Griswold and Hugh DeHaven had the idea to create the three-point seat belt, which reminds us of the seat belt we know today that can protect the torso.
3. Seat belt that we know today was introduced in 1959
1959 was the year when Swedish inventor Nils Bohlin improved the existing design of the three-point seat belt. Today, this invention is in every car and, if used properly, can save lives. Another thing Nils did was to give the seat belt to the world for free. Even though he could have earned millions, he realized the importance of seatbelts and decided that lives are more important than money.
4. Seat belts became mandatory in America in 1966
American car manufacturers offered seat belts as an accessory until 1966. They could be purchased in gas stations. Australia was also among the first countries to make seat belts compulsory in 1970. Other countries followed suit. Still, people weren’t obligated to wear them, according to seat belts facts.
5. New York required people to wear a seat belt in 1984
It took a lot of time for drivers to realize the importance of seat belts. New York was the first state to require passengers to use them in 1984. By 1995, every state besides New Hampshire had the “Click It or Ticket” laws.
6. The rate of seat belt usage grew from 81.7% to 90.7% in the last 15 years
It’s estimated that 90.7% of US adult front-seat passengers used a seat belt in 2019. This represents a slight increase in seat belt use. There’s also a slight difference in seat belt use among rural and urban areas. 90.8% of urban passengers used seat belts compared to 90.4% of rural vehicle occupants, according to seat belts statistics.
7. FMVSS 209 outlines the testing requirements for seat belts
Federal motor vehicle safety standard was the first standard to become effective on March 1, 1967, which specified the seat belt testing requirements and more. In 1973, NHTSA made amendments to the FMVSS 209 and issued a regulation for occupant crash protection. A crash test became one of the requirements.
To briefly answer how seat belts are tested—the dummy is strapped in the car that’s moving, only to hit an obstacle. This tests out how the vehicle and the passengers would react upon collision.
8. Car crashes are a leading cause of death for people younger than 25
Around 37,000 Americans die in car crashes each year, and these accidents are a leading cause of death for those younger than 25.
9. All 50 States and the District of Columbia have some form of child safety law regarding seat belts
NHTSA recommends that state child passenger laws include kids up to 16 years of age and cover all seating positions. In 2019, 15 states strengthened child safety laws when it comes to height, weight, and age.
10. Georgia has the highest seat belt usage of 97.10%
According to the most recent data and seat belts safety facts, Georgia has the highest seat belt usage rate of 97.0%. Hawaii has the second-highest rate of 96.90%, and Oregon is the third with 96.80%.
11. People have about 15 reasons why they don’t use a seat belt
Some claim to be in a hurry, others forget, and many say they were driving a short distance. In addition, passengers complain that seat belts are uncomfortable, or that they have a medical condition. Other arguments against seat belts include the need to exit the vehicle quickly or the fear of being stuck in an accident. Good reflexes, bigger vehicles, and airbags are also poor excuses for not using a seat belt while driving.
12. New Hampshire has the lowest seat belt usage rate of 67.60%
Massachusetts and South Dakota are right after New Hampshire, with 73.70% and 74.80%, respectively.
How Effective Are Seat Belts?
Many doubt the effectiveness of seat belts, but the sentiment is changing for the better. The data show seat belts reduce the risk of severe injuries by 50% and cut the risk of death by 45% for front-seat occupants.
13. Motor vehicles are the leading cause of death for children aged two to 14
When it comes to children, 14 years and younger, over 1,000 die in motor vehicle accidents each year. Over one-third of the children who died were unrestrained. NHTSA is continuously researching how many lives are saved by seat belts each year. According to its studies, when a seat belt is used properly on a child, it can reduce fatal injuries for over 70% in infants and 54% in toddlers.
14. 17,452 people died because not wearing a seatbelt
The last available data show that out of 37,133 people who died in car accidents, 17,452 didn’t wear a seat belt. This is a mortality rate of about 47%, and seat belt statistics point out how serious people should be about using it.
15. Seat belt can minimize moderate to critical injuries by 50%
Not only does wearing a seatbelt prevent vehicle occupants from flying out of a car, but it also prevents moderate to critical injuries by 50%. To be effective, passengers must use it properly, not just place the upper strap under the arm or have children who are not tall enough use it on their own.
Seat Belt Safety Stats
Nobody wants to risk being ejected from a car in an accident. This is why seat belts are mandatory, and drivers or passengers shouldn’t have an excuse not to use them. This is especially important for teens since 50% died because they didn’t buckle up.
16. Passengers who don’t buckle up are 30x more likely to be ejected from a vehicle
Based on the seat belt safety statistics, those who don’t use it while in the moving vehicle have 30x more chances to be ejected upon collision. More than three out of four people who are ejected die from injuries.
17. In 2019, 46% of motor vehicle crash victims aged 15–20 didn’t wear a seatbelt in the US, as per seat belt death statistics.
(Teen Driver Source)
That year, around 1,603 young people between the ages of 15 and 20 died in such crashes in the United States. Moreover, four in ten high school students in the US reported not always using a seatbealt in the last 30 days in 2019.
18. Almost 2,500 teens in the US were killed on roads
2,500 teens aged 13 to 19 died on roads across the US. In addition, about 285,000 were treated in the ER for injuries in car crashes. This means that at least seven teenagers die each day, and several hundred suffer injuries. Teens aged 16 to 19 are also at the highest risk of a car crash than any other age group, based on the last available seat belt crash statistics.
19. Male drivers aged 16-19 have a 2x higher death rate than female drivers
Male teenage drivers seem to participate in more car accidents and have a higher death rate than their female peers. Driving with other teens also increases the risk of a car crash. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are also the days when more than 50% of accidents happened, the latest available seat belt death statistics show.
20. Parents should provide 50 to 60 hours of driving with supervision
Car crashes are preventable, and parents have a huge role in teaching their children how to behave on the road. According to traffic experts, parents should provide about 50 hours of supervised driving practice. In addition, they should take their teen across a variety of roads and discuss and teach them about potential hazards.
If a child asks why it is important to wear a seatbelt, parents should be ready to answer with facts and numbers to teach their teens how important seat belts are.
21. Cumulative lives saved by seat belts are 374,276
This is the total number of all lives saved from 1975 until today. The trend of seat belt use is increasing, while the trend of unrestrained victims of traffic accidents is decreasing. This shows that more vehicle occupants are aware of the statistics about seat belt safety and the importance of wearing one.
22. Seat belt failure causes injuries in 3 million US residents each year
Even though seat belts are installed for protection, sometimes they can fail. About 3 million Americans suffer injuries because of a faulty seat belt. Unfortunately, 40,000 vehicle occupants die as well. Seat belt failure is the primary factor contributing to severe injuries, according to the latest data about car crashes without seatbelts.
23. General Motors recalls almost 840,000 vehicles in the US because of a suspension and seat belt problem
GM stated the seat belt brackets weren’t secured to the seat frame. This could’ve caused severe injuries, failing to restrain people in car accidents. In addition, the seat belt recall included Chevrolets and GMCs, while pickups with bucket seats weren’t affected, according to the seat belt failure statistics.
24. November 14 is the National Seat Belt Day
National Seat Belt Day is used to promote seat belt usage. It’s a great way to teach vehicle passengers about the importance of using seat belts. Even though most drivers and passengers realize why it’s important to buckle up, some refuse to do so. It’s a fact that a seat belt saves lives, and statistics clearly show that most of the sustained injuries in a car crash wouldn’t have happened if passengers had worn a seatbelt.
25. 28% of people who use rideshare vehicles admitted not using seat belts
According to the latest survey done on 1,000 Americans, 28% admitted that they don’t buckle up while riding in Uber or Lyft. However, nine out of 10 US residents use a seat belt in their own car, seat belt usage statistics show. This makes rideshare less safe than advertised.
26. Rideshares might be responsible for 3% increase in fatal traffic accidents
The fact that many Americans believe that the backseat of their Uber is so safe they don’t need a seat belt caused a 3% increase of fatal car accidents with rideshares. Before rideshares became accessible, the trend was going downwards. However, there was a break in the downward trend in 2010, right around the time when rideshares appeared.
Seat belt deaths statistics point out that the 3% increase in auto deaths meant 987 lives lost each year across various age groups. The rideshare fatalities also cost more than $9 billion. Passengers aged 45 to 54 and those aged 18 to 24 were least likely to buckle up. The safest age groups were people aged 25 to 34 and 35 to 44.
27. Fines for no seat belt range from $10 to over $162
According to seat belt use statistics, some drivers still don’t use their seat belts even with Click It or Ticket enforcement. If they’re caught, there’s no doubt they’ll have to pay a fine, which may also affect their insurance. However, each state is different, and so are the costs of the fines. In Wisconsin, for front and rear seats, the fine is $10, but in California, it goes up to $162.
Seat Belt Injury Statistics
One of the common excuses drivers use when they don’t buckle up is the belief that seat belts will prevent them from leaving a burning car or cause injuries. While the seat belt syndrome is severe, there’s nothing worse than flying through the windshield.
28. Seat belts cause ruptured aorta in 37% of cases
Many seat belt injuries have delayed symptoms, and early treatment is necessary to alleviate all consequences of a car crash. For example, ruptured aorta happens in 37% of cases; Bilateral lung contusion in 31.1%, ruptures of the heart in 28.4%, and lung lacerations in 15.5% of cases. These injuries are usually caused by high-speed accidents, according to seat belt injuries statistics.
29. Children should be at least 4’9’’ tall to avoid the seat belt syndrome
Fitting a seat belt properly to children means minimizing the seat belt syndrome or being thrown out of the car in case of an accident. Seat belt syndrome is a term that includes specific injuries related to the use of seat belts. The injuries most commonly happen in the abdomen area and can be severe, based on the seat belt accident statistics.
30. Unrestrained rear site passengers are 8x more likely to sustain a severe injury
Seat belts are saving lives regardless of the seating position. For example, passengers in the back seats who don’t buckle up have an 8x higher chance of sustaining a severe injury upon collision.
Seat belts are designed to keep people in place upon collision and thus reduce injuries. People who use it significantly reduce the risk of coming in contact with the vehicle interior or being ejected through the windshield. These seat belt statistics point out how important it is for everyone in the car to use them properly.
People spent decades testing out the effects of seat belts, and the idea that it will keep a user strapped in after an accident is unacceptable as an excuse. Seat belts are the number one safety measure in vehicles, and they are irreplaceable.
People Also Ask
Who invented seat belts?
Back in the 1800s, George Cayley considered making pilots safe in their gliders by introducing a type of seat belt. In 1855, Edward J. Claghorn patented his kind of seat belt used in the New York taxis to keep passengers safe. The first iteration of the three-point seat belt happened in 1955 when the two Americans, Roger W Griswold and Hugh DeHaven, had the idea to create the three-point seat belt. Nils Bohlin improved this design, and those are the seat belts we know and use today.
What year did cars require seat belts?
American car manufacturers offered seat belts as an accessory until 1966, but the US made them mandatory after that. However, people still weren’t forced to use them at all times. It was in 1984 that New York started requiring all passengers to buckle up. By 1995, every state besides New Hampshire had the Click It or Ticket laws, and those who didn’t buckle up were issued fines.
Why should we wear safety seat belts in a car?
The total number of all lives saved by seat belts from 1975 until today is 374,276. Unfortunately, those who don’t use them while in a moving vehicle have 30x more chances of being ejected upon collision. This is more than three out of four people dying because of injuries. Seat belts are saving lives regardless of the seat they’re using. Passengers in the back seats who don’t buckle up have an 8x higher chance of sustaining a severe injury upon collision.
What percentage of lives are saved by seat belts?
It’s estimated that 90.7% of adult US front-seat passengers used a seat belt in 2019. This represents a slight increase in seat belt use, meaning more lives were saved. In addition, many Americans have become aware of the positive sides of wearing a seatbelt and are using it properly. As a result, in the US, approximately 15,000 lives are saved annually just by using a seat belt in vehicles.
How many deaths do seat belts cause?
Seat belts don’t cause death—they help prevent it. One of the excuses for not wearing a seat belt is a belief that they’ll trap a car occupant in place while the vehicle is burning or sinking. While these accidents do happen, the numbers are almost insignificant, compared to the number of saved lives, both in adults and children. Drivers can always purchase a seat belt cutter and hang it with the car keys if they fear that seat belts will malfunction.
What percentage of drivers killed in car collisions were not wearing seat belts?
More than 1,000 14-year-olds and younger die in motor vehicle accidents each year. Over one-third of the children who died were unrestrained. If a seat belt is used properly on a child, it can reduce fatal injuries for over 70% in infants and 54% in toddlers. However, 17,452 adults died from not wearing a seat belt, according to the latest available information. This is a mortality rate of about 47%, which is high, considering that all cars now have seat belts.
Are lap seat belts legal?
Whether someone can use a lap belt depends on the car manual. The three-point seat belt should be used by adults and children of a proper height, and it’s made of the lap and the shoulder belt strap. Booster seats are for babies and younger children, and their manual explains they should be used with a lap and shoulder belt. Lap belts are also used in aircraft seats.
How does a seatbelt prevent injury?
When a vehicle moves and abruptly stops, the kinetic energy suddenly gets transferred to the passengers. The instant deceleration of the car makes the bodies of the people inside want to move. Seat belts prevent movement and save the passengers from hitting the insides of the car or being ejected from it. When car occupants stay in place, their injuries are minimized.
What happens to a seatbelt after an accident?
If a seat belt worked properly during the seconds of the accident, it would have to be replaced or recalibrated. After the accident, the mechanism that helps keep passengers in place will stop working. The retractor mechanism needs to deploy at the right moment, at all times. If a car goes through an accident, mechanics will do a diagnostic and read the codes that show what needs to be repaired, according to seat belt statistics.