Seatbelts Work Only If You Use Them
Seatbelts Work Only If You Use Them

In every seat in every vehicle sold in Texas and across the U.S. there are seat belts. They’re not optional, and there’s no extra charge for them. Whether you purchased your vehicle, are leasing it or are driving a rental, you paid for that seat belt. Why not use it? If you’re involved in an accident, using a seat belt could mean the difference between life or death, or between a serious or a minor injury, or maybe no injury at all.

Nearly 3,000 people not using seat belts were killed or seriously injured in vehicle accidents in Texas in 2017, reports the Texarkana Gazette. Using a seat belt improves your chances of surviving a vehicle accident by 45% to 60%. The Texas Department of Transportation Austin District is trying to increase seat belt use through a public safety outreach campaign.

Their campaign theme announced last month, “There are Some Things More Confining than a Seat Belt,” includes social media, posters, television, and radio public service announcements in English and Spanish.

Eden Ganzerla lost control of her car while driving to work in August 2016. She crashed into a retaining wall, breaking nearly every bone in her body, but she survived. She copes with a traumatic brain injury and needs to communicate through a computer. Eden was not wearing her seat belt at the time of the accident. She and her family developed the seat belt awareness campaign with the TxDOT Austin District.

John Ganzerla, Eden’s father, describes her as very outgoing and talkative, living life to the fullest before the accident. “Now, she is dependent on her mother and me for even the simplest everyday tasks,” he told the Gazette. The campaign features Eden’s story and reminds drivers and passengers to buckle up. Where they go or how far doesn’t matter, because an accident could happen anywhere, at any time.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 23,714 drivers and passengers in passenger vehicles were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2016. Between 53% and 62% of teens (those 13 to 19 years old) and adults 20 to 44 years old who died in these crashes were not using seat belts at the time of the crash. The lives of about 15,000 vehicle accident victims were saved because they used seat belts in 2016.

Young adults aged 18 to 24 are less likely to use seat belts than those who are older, according to the CDC. Men are less likely to wear seat belts than women, and adults living in non-metropolitan areas are less likely to wear seat belts compared to adults who live in metropolitan areas.

Under Texas law, those in a vehicle need to use seat belts or face fines and court costs up to $200. Children younger than eight need to be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they’re taller than four feet nine inches. If they’re not, the driver could be fined up to $250 plus court costs.

The best way to deal with vehicle accident injuries is to avoid or minimize them, including by using seat belts. If you or a loved one has suffered such harm, don’t wait to get legal help from a passionate Austin car accident lawyer like Chip Evans. Fill out our contact form now so we can start the conversation about your accident, your legal rights and how we can help.