Collage of hospital associates holding a sign that says

Buckle up and enjoy the ride

Click it or ticket.

Many of us are familiar with this slogan and know what it means: if we don’t wear a seat belt we could get a ticket.

But do we really understand why?

Seat belts save lives. In fact, seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved almost 15,000 lives in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and 49 states currently enforce seatbelt laws. 

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Not a new technology

The first patented seat belt was created in 1885 to keep tourists safe in New York City taxis. Since that time, seat belts have evolved into the three-point seat belt system we use today. The seat belt was designed to not only keep passengers in their vehicle, but to help them remain in their seats, drastically reducing the chances of suffering blunt force trauma or being ejected from the vehicle.

South Carolina – did you know?

In 2005, the South Carolina seat belt law became a primary enforcement, which means that a police officer can pull a person over if anyone in the vehicle does not appear be wearing a seat belt. Many people think the law only applies to the driver, but the law states that every person in the vehicle is required to wear a seat belt.

The 2018 statistics from SC Highway Patrol show that in almost half of all car accident fatalities in South Carolina, the people who died were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash. Even with seat belts being mandatory, many people still choose to disregard this safety precaution and end up losing their lives because of it.

What could happen?

Even a low-speed crash can send an unbelted person careening into the dashboard or side window, resulting in severe head injuries or broken bones.

At higher speeds, the potential fate of the unbelted occupant is gruesome: from severe lacerations to being propelled through the windshield. If you are thrown from a car, you could be struck by other cars when you land on the road or trapped under an overturned car. Even those who are unrestrained and remain within the cabin of their vehicle during a crash can be killed or disabled.

Sound scary? Then buckle up and make everyone in your vehicle buckle up, too.

Accidents happen

The fact remains that every minute of every day, someone is involved in a car crash in the United States according to the NHTSA. In 2018, the Emergency Center at Spartanburg Medical Center treated 923 people with injuries related to vehicle accidents, and its Level I Trauma Center is ready to provide the highest level of trauma care at any time, day or night.

While we can’t predict what will happen in our busy lives from one minute to the next, it only takes a second to buckle up and give ourselves an added layer of protection on the road.  

Injury prevention and awareness

In addition to promoting important topics like seat belt safety, Spartanburg Medical Center’s trauma team offers a variety of free community-based injury prevention programs that take place in schools, community centers, churches and other locations. If you are interested in learning more about these programs, visit our website or give me a call.

TJ Mack serves as trauma injury prevention and outreach coordinator for Spartanburg Medical Center. He can be reached at 864-560-6839.