Seatbelt Safety Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Deidra Hawkins
  • 17th Training Wing Safety
Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, Air Education and Training Command Commander, declared September as Seatbelt Awareness Month. Throughout this month, one may see leadership making visual checks to ensure service members are properly wearing seatbelts. Squadrons are highly encouraged to conduct their own checks. Individuals could post in their squadron parking lot and conduct these visual checks. Attempt to correct those who deviate from the law, and provide the numbers to your leadership. However, it shouldn’t stop at leadership. It is every Airman’s responsibility to hold themselves and others accountable.

Studies show that as use of seatbelts increase, traffic fatalities decrease. Between 1975 and 2000, seatbelt use saved over 135,000 lives. Since then, seatbelt use continues to save 9,500 lives each year. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 25 percent of Americans still fail to wear a seatbelt. Forty-nine percent of passengers killed in 2014 did not use seatbelts.

Myths debunked
- Some people believe that if they are thrown from a car, they are more likely to survive. According to the Kansas Traffic Resource Office, individuals who get thrown from their cars are more likely to die than those wearing seatbelts.
- “I’m not going to put my seatbelt on because I’m just going down the street.” According to National Transportation Safety Board, 80 percent of all crashes come at speeds less than 40 mph and 75 percent of those are within 25 miles of home.
- “I have an airbag so I don’t need to wear my seatbelt.” Airbags are a supplemental restraint system. They are not designed to work alone to protect you in a crash. They work in conjunction with the seatbelt.
- “Seatbelts are uncomfortable.” Well, so is going through your windshield at 40 mph. Also note that if you are one of those who likes to wear a shoulder belt under your arm, it can cause internal injuries involved in a crash. Shoulder belts are not designed to be effective worn under your arm.
- Drivers say that they would want to increase their chances of surviving a car fire or a submerged car. However, less than half of 1 percent of all accidents involve submersion or fire.

Physics of seatbelts
Imagine that you were ejected from your vehicle upon impact. Depending on several factors, you could be thrown 100 feet from your vehicle. Speed is one of those factors. Speed, coupled with the non-utilization of a seatbelt makes for a deadly combination. Consider Newton’s First Law of Motion which states that unless an outside force acts on an object, the object will continue to move at its present speed and direction. You are that object. Unless you are restrained inside the car, you will continue to move at whatever speed the car is traveling. This applies even if the car is stopped by a crash. A body moving at 60 mph and hitting a wall is not a pretty site. This is why seatbelts are so important. See the links at the bottom of this page that shows the physics of seatbelts.

Seatbelts save lives
The standard statement, “seatbelts save lives” couldn’t be any closer to the truth. Below are some advantages of seatbelt use:
- Designed to prevent passengers from striking the interior of a vehicle or being ejected.
- Reduces the chance of traffic-related fatalities by 45 percent.
- Reduces the chance of being injured by 50 percent.
- Spreads the force of impact over larger parts of the body, reducing severity of injuries.

Wing Safety performs random seatbelt inspections. You might spot us at the gates or in a parking lot. Past inspections have revealed that most, but not all people wear their seatbelts. As military members, we are mandated to wear seatbelts when operating a vehicle. Wing Safety and base leadership are constantly looking for ways to improve the compliance rate to 100 percent. If you have any ideas, please call our office at 325-654-3963. We would love to hear them!

For more information about seatbelt safety and statistics, visit the sites below.

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