Seatbelt Stats in Truck Accidents - Utah Seat Belt Laws

Truck accidents are among the most catastrophic of all motor vehicle collisions. Any occupant of a smaller vehicle hit by a semi-truck is at risk of severe injury or death. However, statistics show that wearing seat belts can save lives. In conjunction with other vehicle safety systems like airbags and crumple zones, seat belts can make a devastating truck crash survivable.

Utah Seat Belt Laws

By law, Utah requires universal seat belt use. All vehicle occupants must wear seat belts, and all children ages eight and younger must be seated in an appropriate car seat or booster seat.

Because of the primary enforcement nature of Utah’s seat belt law, police may pull over a vehicle any time they observe an occupant not wearing a seat belt. The driver does not need to commit any other infractions for the officer to initiate the stop.

How Many People Die From Not Wearing Seat Belts?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately half of all vehicle occupants killed in auto accidents fail to wear seat belts. In one recent year, 51 percent of the 23,824 vehicle occupant fatalities involved individuals who were not wearing seat belts, a four percent increase over the prior year.

Around three-quarters of the people killed in U.S. truck accidents are motorists in other vehicles, not the truck driver. However, a failure to wear seat belts is also a problem among truckers. Studies by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about one in six truck drivers do not wear seat belts behind the wheel. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that of the approximately 4,000 people who die in large truck accidents nationwide, about 15 percent of fatalities occur to truck occupants.

Number of Lives Saved by Seat Belts in Utah

The Utah Department of Health reports that in a recent five-year window, 305 motor vehicle accident fatalities involved unrestrained occupants. A past NHTSA study found that seven lives could be saved and 105 cases of serious injuries in motor vehicle accidents prevented if Utah’s seat belt usage rate hit 90 percent. Thankfully, the Beehive State recently reached that goal.

The state has set a short-term target of reaching seat belt usage rates of 92.4 percent. In a more recent survey, 95.8 percent of participating Utah adults self-reported that they always or nearly always used seat belts.

Survival Rates of Wearing or Not Wearing Seat Belts

According to NHTSA, buckling up while in the front seat of a passenger vehicle can reduce the risk of death in an accident by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to severe injury by 50 percent. Buckling up in a truck can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent. Moreover, the CDC states that vehicle occupants who fail to wear their seat belts are 30 times more likely to be ejected from the vehicle in a crash and that three out of four people who get ejected ultimately die from their injuries.

Future Car Safety Upgrades

Automaker Volvo developed the modern three-point seat belt in the late 1950s, and the seat belts became standard in all vehicles the company produced by 1963. Seat belt tensioners were introduced in Shelby Mustangs in the late 1960s as Ford developed and began incorporating inflatable seat belts in its vehicles. More recently, as car companies rush to develop self-driving vehicles that allow motorists to engage in other tasks while being driven by computers, Volvo has been considering reimagining the seat belt. The company has proposed a blanket-like system that would protect autonomous vehicle occupants in the event of a crash.

However, other future car safety upgrades could happen much sooner. The most recent version of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan has airbags that deploy from the backs of the front seats to provide additional upper-body protection to people sitting in the back. Parts maker ZF has developed a similar rear seat airbag system that can be readily installed into newly manufactured vehicles.

Other upcoming car safety upgrades include:

  • Infrared headlights, which can help in poor visibility conditions such as fog, snow, or heavy rain
  • Driver override systems, which can override a driver’s inputs when the system detects an imminent crash
  • Health detection systems, which monitor drivers for signs of impairment from fatigue in Utah or intoxication and prevent a vehicle from being started if the driver shows signs of being unable to operate it safely
  • Vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems, which may allow vehicles to communicate with each other and work together to avoid collisions
  • Augmented reality dashboards, which help guide motorists in real-time and can warn of impending collisions before they happen

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney to Help Your Case

If you have recently been hurt in a truck crash in Utah, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and more. The truck accident lawyers at Swenson & Shelley will fight aggressively for compensation that accounts for your past, current, and future losses.

The path to justice starts here. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.