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Do seat belts help save lives?

Seat belts are standard equipment on every car that is produced in the United States. There are laws requiring that they be worn and people who have done nothing else wrong can be ticketed. The general reasoning is that seat belts save lives, so they must be worn to make the roads safer. Is that true statistically?

It is, but perhaps not as true as you think.

In 2012, there were 21,022 deaths in passenger vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those between the ages of 13 and 44, more than half were not wearing seat belts. The range is between 53 percent and 59 percent.

As you can see, there is a correlation here, as the majority of those who died did not have seat belts on. If it is assumed that most people wear seat belts, the numbers look even more convincing, since more than half of the deaths would come from a group (those without seat belts) that was in the minority to begin with.

However, these stats also show that almost half of those who were killed in accidents were wearing their seat belts.

What this tells you is not that wearing a seat belt is a just as dangerous as not wearing one, but simply that there is nothing that can be done to prevent a death in all cases. Accidents remain a leading cause of death, even in the modern day, because there is only so much that technology and advancements can do. There is always going to be some level of risk.

As such, it's important for those who drive safely and follow all of the rules of the road to know their legal options if they are injured or a loved one is killed. Compensation can often be sought for funeral expenses, medical costs, and more when another driver causes a fatal accident.

Source: CDC, "Seat Belts: Get the Facts," accessed Aug. 29, 2016

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