Seat Belt Stats in St. George Truck Accidents
Studies show seat belts save lives. Unfortunately, many Utah motorists — including truck drivers — still fail to wear them. Whether it’s due to carelessness, inexperience, or a lack of knowledge, vehicle occupants who do not wear seat belts risk severe injury or death in traffic accidents.
The St. George truck accident lawyers at Swenson & Shelley are fierce advocates for people hurt in devastating wrecks with commercial trucks. Our experienced attorneys can help you obtain justice and fair compensation after a truck accident. Contact us today for a free consultation.
The History of Seat Belts
The first documented use of seat belts occurred in the early 1800s by the English engineer George Cayley, who used a lap belt to secure glider pilots. In 1885, the first seat belt patent was awarded to Edward Claghorn for use by tourists in New York taxis. For decades, seat belts were primarily used in aviation and car racing. In the 1930s, doctors began testing seat belts for safety and urged automakers to incorporate them into their vehicles.
In 1958, Swiss engineer Nils Bohlin invented the three-point seat belt for Volvo, and the company allowed other car manufacturers to copy their designs. In 1968, federal law mandated all new cars to have lap and shoulder belts in the front seat, but vehicle occupants were not required to wear them. In 1973, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) attempted to require all new vehicles to utilize a seat belt interlock mechanism, which prevented a car from starting until the driver buckled their seat belt. The public backlash was so fierce that Congress passed a law to avoid the mandate.
In 1984, New York became the first state to require vehicle occupants to wear seat belts. Since then, nearly every state has passed a mandatory seat belt law, including Utah.
Seat Belt Laws in Utah
In Utah, all vehicle occupants must wear seat belts, including the operator and the passengers. Furthermore, children under eight must be restrained in age and size-appropriate car seats or booster seats.
Utah’s seat belt law is a primary enforcement law. This means a police officer can pull a driver over simply for not wearing a seat belt. Previously, a driver could only be issued a seat belt citation after being stopped for a different traffic violation.
The penalty for a seat belt violation is a $45 fine.
Rates of Seat Belt Use Among Truck Drivers
According to recent data from the Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS), transportation and material moving remains one of the deadliest jobs in the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that more than one in three truck drivers has been involved in a serious crash during their career, and one in eight has been involved in more than one crash..
Despite these grave statistics, one in six truck drivers reports not using their seatbelt regularly. In one year, approximately 14 percent of long-haul truck drivers said they did not regularly wear seat belts. And data from the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) shows 900 truck occupants died in crashes in a recent year, and half were not buckled up.
Survival Rates of Wearing or Not Wearing Seat Belts
The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that between 1975 and 2017, seat belts saved 374,276 lives in the United States. In one recent year, seat belts saved almost 13,000 people. That same year, 84 percent of accident survivors were buckled up at the time of the crash. More than half of vehicle occupants who died in traffic accidents were not restrained when the collision occurred.
According to the CDC, seat belt use reduces the risk of death by 45 percent and serious injury by 50 percent for drivers and front-seat passengers. Furthermore, seat belts significantly reduce the risk of being ejected in an accident. Unrestrained occupants are 30 times more likely to be ejected, and over 75 percent of ejected occupants ultimately die from their injuries.
The Utah Department of Public Safety estimates that 45 percent of all people killed in car accidents in the state over the last five years were not wearing their seat belts.
How Age and Gender Play a Part in Seat Belt Statistics
There are significant differences in seat belt use depending on age and gender. According to the NSC, fatalities involving unrestrained motorists are highest among the 25-to-34 age group, comprising over 60 percent of all unrestrained deaths. Those 75 and older account for 29 percent of unrestrained fatalities, while infants up to age four make up 32 percent.
Gender differences were less dramatic but still notable. Among vehicle occupants killed in accidents, men were more likely to have been unrestrained (55 percent), while 57 percent of women wore their seat belts (57 percent).
Will Not Wearing a Seat Belt Reduce my Compensation After a St. George Truck Accident?
Seat belt use is mandatory in Utah. But if you suffered injuries in a truck accident in St. George and weren’t buckled up, you can still recover compensation in a personal injury claim.
In some states, defendants try to reduce their liability by arguing accident victims would have lessened their injuries if they had worn their seat belts. This tactic is known as the seat belt defense and works in some states, but not Utah.
Instead, your ability to recover compensation is determined through the state’s comparative negligence law. It says that each party should be compensated for their losses based on how much they contributed to the wreck. As long as you are assigned 49 percent or less of the fault in Utah, you can still receive a portion of money for your losses. But you collect nothing if you are 50 percent or more to blame. With so little room for error, it’s wise to hire a St. George truck accident attorney to protect your right to full and fair compensation.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney in Utah Today
Were you injured in a collision involving an 18-wheeler or another commercial vehicle? Don’t miss out on the compensation you need to pay your medical bills and move on with your life. Reach out to Swenson & Shelley today. Our trusted legal team can review your case and discuss your options in a free consultation. Call or contact us today to speak with a truck accident attorney in St. George.