In 2015, the number of traffic fatalities reached 962 in Tennessee. The following year, drivers broke into the quadruple digits, totalling 1,037 fatalities, and the numbers have continued to increase since.
According to a recent study, almost half of vehicle fatalities are due to passengers and drivers not wearing seatbelts while in the car. States with large rural populations are also more likely to report residents not wearing seatbelts—Tennessee being one of them.
Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows 6.1 percent of commuters don’t wear seatbelts. Of that population, 41 percent are killed in Tennessee car accidents.
Why all Tennesseeans should wear a seatbelt
In case you need more incentive, here are 3 reasons why you should always buckle up:
#1. It keeps you safe
Seatbelts keep drivers and passengers safe and secure inside the car. If the car crashes or another vehicle hits you at a high speed, you could be ejected from the vehicle, which can lead to serious injury or loss of life.
Drivers and front seat passengers can also reduce the risk of fatalities by 45 percent and decrease their chances of being severely injured by 50 percent just by wearing a seatbelt properly. Moving the strap behind your back or below your arms isn’t enough. You have to properly secure yourself.
#2. Airbags don’t replace seatbelts
Some vehicle occupants believe that airbags are enough to keep them safe if they get into a car accident, but this isn’t true. When they deploy, airbags inflate with enough force to break the ribs and collarbone, which can lead to fatalities. By wearing a seatbelt, you significantly reduce that risk.
#3. It’s the law
Not every state has the same laws when it comes to seatbelts. According to the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, all drivers and front seat passengers are required to properly fasten a seatbelt across their bodies at all times while in a vehicle that’s moving forward.
Anyone under the age of 18 is required to wear a seatbelt whether they’re in the front or back seat. Licenced drivers are responsible for themselves and any passengers under the age of 18. This means even if the driver is wearing a seatbelt, they can still be ticketed if a child is not wearing one.
Currently, the primary seatbelt law allows law enforcement to stop a vehicle if the driver and passengers are not properly secured inside a moving vehicle without exception.
Were you injured by an unrestrained driver?
Tennesseans opposed to seatbelt laws argue no one but themselves are hurt by not wearing a seatbelt, but this isn’t the case. Occupants who don’t wear a seatbelt are more likely to injure others in the event of a crash and have less control of their vehicle.
If you or a friend or family member have been injured in a car accident, and the other driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, you may be entitled to compensation. You don’t have to suffer from another driver’s negligence.