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Do District of Columbia teens buckle up?

Residents in the D.C. area know that buckling up can save lives, but what about our young people? How aware are they that seat belts save lives in car crashes? One young 18-year-old girl stated that she often has to remind her male friends to buckle up. If they don't want to do so, she threatens to stop the car - and good for her!

This is important since the leading cause of death for U.S. teens is car accidents. This month, the Governor's Highway Safety Association released the 2012 numbers for teen drivers who were fatally injured from vehicle crashes while not wearing a seat belt. The statistics show that teens, or those under 20 years of age, who were not wearing seat belts during car accidents, had a higher rate of fatality than those over 20 who were not wearing seat belts. Sixty percent of teen passengers in cars without seat belt restraints were killed or fatally injured, while less than 50 percent of passengers over the age of 20 are killed. Teenage "driver" fatalities of those not wearing seat belts was 51 percent.

Actual numbers show that 1,166 teen drivers across the nation – age 16 to 19 years of age – were fatally injured in 2012. For teen passengers, that number was 789. More male teens than female teens were likely to be killed in an accident while not wearing their seat belt. For the male gender, that equates to 14.1 per 100,000 people, and for females, 8.4 per 100,000.

Seat belts are meant to save lives, and teens, as well as adults, should take wearing them seriously. Safety, of course, is the first and most important reason, but in the event of an accident where injury occurs, the use of a seat belt may also have an effect on any legal issues or lawsuits that may be invoked. In addition, the non-use of a seat belt in a car accident may affect insurance coverage or future insurance rates.

Source: Source: Pittsburg Post-Gazette, "Young drivers still aren’t buckling up enough," Matt Nussbaum, July 10, 2014

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