Believe it or not, there are still large numbers of motorists who don’t wear seat belts, many of whom are teens and young adults. I guess they feel safe and secure while driving. But the fact is that the roads are more dangerous than ever. There is no doubt that drivers face a new universe of risk based on an increasing number of dangerous drivers who are driving more distracted, more aggressive, and more reckless than ever before.
So what makes people drive unprotected? Below are the top excuses your teen might use for not wearing their seat belts and how you can deal with them.
1. Seat Belts Are Uncomfortable
Seat belts shouldn’t be uncomfortable. If your seat belt is uncomfortable, you likely need to adjust its height or the seat. The seat belt shoulder strap should rest on the chest with the lap belt around the hips.
You should also sit up straight when you drive, which allows the seat belt’s pressure to be even across the body. Sitting up straight also allows for better visibility as you drive.
If the seat belt still seems uncomfortable, you can use padded seat belt covers.
2. They Forget to Buckle Up
Forgetting to buckle up isn’t a good excuse now that most vehicles made within the last couple of decades have seat belt alarms that remind drivers to buckle their seat belts. In fact, some cars even offer this safety feature for front-seat passengers. If your teenager is in a car that doesn’t have a seat belt alarm, work with them to make buckling up a habit.
3. They Are Only Driving a Short Distance
The distance you’re driving plays no role in your safety behind the wheel. In fact, you have probably heard that most car crashes occur within just a few miles of a person’s home. That’s because many people don’t travel far from their homes for shopping, work, or school. Wearing a seat belt, no matter how far you are traveling, could save your life.
4. They Are Driving at Slow Speeds
Statistics show that more than 70 percent of motor vehicle fatalities occur when vehicles travel at speeds below 40 miles per hour. Again, your teen’s driving speed isn’t the only factor in a dangerous accident. What if your teenager is driving 30 miles per hour but is rear-ended by a vehicle traveling 70 miles per hour? Without a seat belt, your teenager could obtain serious injuries after being ejected from their vehicle.
5. They Are Careful Drivers
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how careful you drive. You have no way of controlling how other people behave on the road. With people driving more aggressively than ever, and distracted driving becoming a more frequent issue, it doesn’t matter how carefully you drive; you aren’t guaranteed to be able to avoid an accident. It is important to wear a seat belt just in case.
6. The Car Will Protect Them
The size of your vehicle is irrelevant when you are ejected from your car. Being unrestrained in even the largest truck or SUV doesn’t guarantee you will walk away from a car accident unscathed. In fact, we see many fatalities involving unbuckled drivers and passengers in large vehicles. Seat belts could’ve saved their lives.
7. The Airbags Will Protect Them
Airbags were not made to be used without seat belts. Unfortunately, without a seat belt, airbags aren’t in the correct position to protect your head, neck, and chest in a car accident. Therefore, seat belt usage is critical in protecting yourself in the event of a car crash.
8. Seat Belts Will Trap Them in a Crash
Being trapped in the car following an accident is a real worry that many people have. However, it is much more likely that damage to the car will keep you trapped inside the vehicle than your seat belt. Additionally, being ejected from the car increases your chances of being killed in an accident four times.
If car fires or submersion in water are the biggest concerns your teen has about wearing a seat belt, remind them that wearing a seat belt increases their odds of being conscious after impact, making it more likely that they will find a way out of the vehicle.
9. Seat Belts Can Cause Injuries in a Crash
Seat belts can indeed cause minor injuries like bruises. But think about the potential injuries you could sustain without a seat belt. A few bruises are nothing compared to broken bones, concussions, traumatic brain injuries, burns, spinal cord damage, internal bleeding, severe lacerations, and more—even death. A bruised hip or shoulder doesn’t seem nearly as bad as the alternatives.
10. They Want Freedom
Feeling restrained by seat belts is normal. The entire point of seat belts is to restrain you in the event of an accident. However, if your teenager wants the freedom of driving, they should be willing to wear their seat belts for their safety. Remind them that the purpose of seat belts is protection in the event of an accident.
No matter what excuse your teenager brings to the table to justify not wearing a seat belt, you have been armed with the knowledge you need to teach them about seat belt safety. At Horn Law, we encourage all parents to make seat belts a requirement for the privilege of driving.
Check out the other blogs in our teen driver series for more information on keeping your teen safe behind the wheel:
Drive By Example: Show Your Teens How to Drive Safely