As school gets closer, we at Meyer’s and Waterloo Automotive have been using our blog to talk about teen driving safety. Soon they’ll be hopping into the driver’s seat to make their way to and from school, practice, work and, let’s face it, social activities. (Sometimes we parents like to forget that one.) Because auto accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S., however, we want to make sure they are as prepared to hit the road as possible and have the best chance of making it safely to their destinations.
This week it’s all about seat belts, and, of course, we’re starting with stats.
Not surprisingly, as an age group, teenagers are the least likely to wear seat belts both while driving and riding in a vehicle. The biggest offenders are teenage males who choose against seat belts 4% more often than females.
According to teendriversource.org, some of the common reasons teens choose not to buckle up are because they aren’t comfortable, the trip is short, they forget, they don’t understand the purpose of seat belts and their friends won’t see them as “cool.”
So, as usual, the best thing to do in order to combat this problem is to communicate about it. Talk with your teenager about the importance of seat belts–why they are necessary, how they save lives and the legal responsibility that comes with them.
When sharing about the purpose of seat belts, include some of this information from a study at James Madison University:
- Approximately 35,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes each year, and about 50 percent (17,000) of these people could be saved if they wore their safety belts.
- When used properly, safety belts reduce the number of serious traffic injuries by 50 percent and fatalities by 60-70 percent.
- Motorists are 25 times are more likely to be killed or seriously injured when they are “thrown clear” than when remain inside their vehicle.
- In a 30-mph collision, an unbelted 160 lb. person can strike another passenger, crash through a windshield and/or slam into the vehicle’s interior with a 4,800 lb. force.
And, for those who think the trip is just too short, try this:
- Seventy-five percent of crash deaths and injuries occur within 25 miles of the home. More than half of all injury-producing motor vehicle crashes involve low speeds under 40 mph.
As a parent, it’s important to realize that you have a great deal of influence over your teenager’s behavior. Simply by talking with them about the importance of seat belts can be what encourages them to buckle up and eventually save their lives. Also, set a good example by wearing your own seat belt while driving. Actions always speak louder than words.
The main thing to remember, though, is that by communicating this to your teens, you will be sending a message to them that you care for them and are concerned about their safety. Present the facts in a loving way, but be direct and let them know that this is serious business. Consider enforcing family rules about safety belts that back up the state laws, and definitely let your teens know that they are legally responsible for clicking the belt. Both Missouri and Illinois require drivers to be buckled up at all times when behind the wheel, so let your kids know that they could be facing a fine if they disobey the law.
Finally, we want to leave you with an encouraging stat. According to teendriversource.org, nine out of 10 people will buckle up if verbally asked to do so. Ask your teen to buckle up and encourage him or her to do the same with their own passengers. After all, it may be the question that saves both a car and a life.
For any and all of your automotive questions or needs in the St. Louis area call Meyer’s Automotive (314) 627-0306 or Waterloo Automotive (618) 937-8438! We care about your safety and we are he to answer any and all of your automotive questions!