5 On Your Side

Consumer Reports: Millions still not buckling up despite the risk

Posted September 19

Millions of drivers and passengers still don't wear seat belts, despite it being the law in many U.S. states. In North Carolina, every person in a car – whether they are in the front seats or back seats of vehicles – must be buckled up.

Consumer Reports says those who aren't buckled up put everyone in the car at risk.

Suzanne Elzey said her son Tyler and his friend Harrison became "projectiles" when they were involved in a wreck and died.

Tyler and Harrison were in the back seat of the car they were in and weren't wearing seat belts. The driver of the vehicle was also killed.

"Their heads hit each other. Tyler suffered multiple skull fractures," Suzanne Elzey said. "Not wearing a seat belt makes you a lethal weapon."

Consumer Reports estimates that between a quarter and a third of passengers in the back seats of cars don't buckle up. Young passengers are often the worst offenders.

"People may think it's OK to be unbelted in the back seat or skip the belt altogether if it's just a short trip. That's just wrong," Consumer Reports' Jon Linkov said.

Consumer Reports says most fatal car crashes happen within 25 miles of home.

The Governor's Highway Safety Association also says being unbuckled in the back seat triples the risk of dying in a crash compared to wearing a seat belt.

"Unbelted passengers in the back can be flung forward in a crash with such tremendous force that they can injure or even kill the people in the front," Linkov said.

Following her son's death, Suzanne Elzey started Cruisesafe.org to educate kids on wearing their seat belts.

"These four kids, who were all really good kids, just graduated from high school, and in an instant they were all gone," Elzey said.

Consumer Reports estimates that medical costs and lost productivity from not wearing a seat belt in a wreck cost the U.S. about $10 billion.


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