Seat Belt Safety When Traveling Over The River And Through The Woods
Dr. Anderson discusses an aspect of seat belt safety that many travelers overlook.
Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family. For many of us, that means getting into the car and onto the road. AAA reports that 90 percent of holiday travelers drive to their holiday destination. Increased traffic means it is even more important to practice safe driving habits and buckle up. In Minnesota, seat belt safety is the law. But there’s one seat belt safety detail that you might not know.
Buckling up in the back seat is part of seat belt safety
“Minnesota is one of 29 states that make seat belts a legal requirement,” says Summit lower extremity surgeon Dr. Michael Andersen. “But people may not realize that state law applies to all the seat belts in the car. Most of us make it a habit to reach for the safety belt when we get into the driver’s seat or the front passenger seat of the car. But bucking up in the back seat is just as important—and required by law.”
Why seat belt safety matters
A recent survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that 92 percent of Americans always use safety belts in the front seat. But that number drops to 72 percent when passengers slide into the back seat of a car. “The law doesn’t distinguish between seat belts in the front seat and those in the back,” Dr. Anderson points out. “And although I want people to be law abiding, I’m more concerned about their safety. Car crashes increase by 25 percent during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Wearing your seat belt—whether you are in the front seat or the back seat—is critical.”
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey reports that seat belts saved 14,000 lives in 2015. “Seat belts significantly increase your chances of surviving a crash,” Dr. Anderson confirms. “They also lower your risk of sustaining a serious injury when a crash occurs. If you aren’t wearing a seatbelt during an accident, you are 30 times more likely to be ejected from the car. This matters, because ejection injuries are serious. About 75 percent of people thrown from the car during an accident do not survive their injuries.”
What you can do to be safer on the road
“There’s an easy way to avoid this injury risk,” says Dr. Anderson. “Practice seat belt safety. Take the time to buckle up when you get into the car. And make sure every person with you in the car is using a safety belt too.”
If you are in a car crash, Summit offers expert care
Sometimes, car crashes happen, even with careful precautions. “If the worst happens despite good seat belt safety practices, we are here to help,” says Dr. Anderson. “I treat lots of lower extremity fractures after car crashes. Some injuries, like ankle fractures, are routine. But others are more complicated. If you suffer a lower extremity injury in a crash, I encourage you to seek expert care from an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle. Subspecialists have the training to identify easy-to-miss fractures like talus, calcaneus, and midfoot fractures. I’ve only been in practice at Summit for six weeks, and I’ve already seen one previously missed talar fracture, caused by a car accident.”
All of us at Summit want you to enjoy a safe and healthy holiday season. We hope that taking seat belt safety precautions will keep you out of harm’s way during the holidays and whenever you travel.
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