TEEN SEAT BELT FACTS
In 2018, approximately 44% of teen drivers who died in crashes were not wearing their seat belts and 52% of teen passengers who died in crashes were not wearing seat belts.1
Teen drivers with involved parents are twice as likely to wear seat belts.2
Overall, seat belts save about 15,000 lives per year equaling about 255,000 lives saved since 1975.3 Lap and shoulder seat belts reduce the risk of death for front-seat occupants in a crash by 45% and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%.5 Air bags are not enough to protect teens; in fact, the force of an air bag can seriously injure or even kill teens if they're not buckled up.7
Teen drivers often justify not wearing seat belts because of urban legends. During focus groups teens can recite the stories they have heard about people being decapitated by their safety belts, being horribly burned by their air bags, or walking away from a crash when they were ejected from their vehicle, but do not know the real facts about seat belts.4
Students who reported sleeping ≤7 hours on school nights were more likely to report several injury-related risk behaviors (infrequent bicycle helmet use, infrequent seatbelt use, riding with a driver who had been drinking, drinking and driving, and texting while driving) compared with students who sleep 9 hours.13
Seat belt use is lowest among teen drivers than other age group.6
Seatbelt use by teen passengers is lower during the first half of the year. Teen passengers traveling on local streets are more likely not to wear seatbelts. Teen passengers traveling late after 10:00 p.m. are more likely to be unrestrained. Seatbelt use of passengers is correlated with their drivers’ seatbelt use.8
58% of the young drivers involved in fatal passenger vehicle crashes who had been drinking were not wearing a safety belt.9
Only 51% of high school students reported to always wearing a seat belt when riding as a passenger. Racial/ethnic minorities, teens living in states with secondary enforcement seat belt laws, and those engaged in substance use were least likely to always wear their seat belts.10
Teens not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from the vehicle during a crash. More than 3 out of 4 people who are ejected during a fatal crash die from their injuries.11
In-vehicle monitoring system improved teenagers' safety belt use when violations were reported to parents, and improved even more when in-vehicle alerts were activated 12
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
INFORM YOUR TEEN: Emphasize that wearing a seat belt is the single most important thing your teen can do to reduce the fatality and injury risk of driving a car, or as a passenger. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying in a car by 50%. Share the gruesome reality of being ejected from a vehicle if you are not wearing a seat belt as the driver, front passenger, and rear passenger. Since accidents are impossible to predict seat belts must be worn every trip, every time or injury or death could occur. Go over the seat belt laws in your State, the fines, and the financial ramifications to your insurance if your teen were ticketed. Commit your teen in a Parent/Teen Driving Contract to always wear their seat belt and establish the consequences if they break the contract: loss of driving privileges, pay the difference in the car insurance increase, ect.
BE THE EXAMPLE: Teens would never admit it but they follow the example set by their parents. If a parent always wears their seat belt and insists everyone in the car is buckled before driving then a teen is much more likely to do the same.
REMIND THEM OFTEN: The seat belt conversation with your teen is not a one and done conversation, it’s ongoing. Ask your teen about wearing a seat belt, and remind them every so often. You might have your teen adopt the Time to Drive Ritual outlined in the Mindfulness section of the Mitigation Strategies. If you insist your teen do the Time to Drive Ritual every time before they embark on a trip, seat belt use will become habitual. Also, remember to encourage your teen to not only wear their seat belt will driving, but also as a passenger in the front seat or in the back.
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Fatality Facts 2017: Teenagers. Highway Loss Data Institute; December 2018. Available at https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/teenagersexternal icon.
- Ginsburg, K. R., D. R. Durbin, J. F. Garcia-Espana, E. A. Kalicka, and F. K. Winston. "Associations Between Parenting Styles and Teen Driving, Safety-Related Behaviors and Attitudes." Pediatrics 124, no. 4 (2009): 1040-1051.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Seat Belts: Policy Impact. The Department of Health and Human Services: Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbeltbrief/index.html
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2007). Teen unsafe driving behaviors: focus group final report. Annals of emergency medicine, 50(4), 478–479. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annemergmed.2007.08.007
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; US Department of Transportation. Traffic safety facts. 2013 data. Occupant protection. 2015. Available at: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812153. Accessed December 14, 2017
- Enriquez, J. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Occupant Restraint Use in 2018: Results From the NOPUS Controlled Intersection Study (Report No. DOT HS 812 781). US Department of Transportation; August 2019. Available at: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812781external icon.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Seat Belts. US Department of Transportation; May 2019. Available at: https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts.
- Boakye, K. F., Khattak, A., Everett, J., & Nambisan, S. (2019). Correlates of front-seat passengers' non-use of seatbelts at night. Accident; analysis and prevention, 130, 30–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2018.04.006
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts 2017: Young Drivers (Report No. DOT HS 812 753). US Department of Transportation; May 2019. Available at: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812753external icon
- Shults RA, Haegerich TM , Bhat G , et al. Teens and seat belt use: what makes them click? J Safety Res 2016;57:19–25.doi:10.1016/j.jsr.2016.03.003
- Dept of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts: Occupant Protection. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2009. Available at URL: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811160.pdfCdc-pdf
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Effects of in-vehicle monitoring on the driving behavior of teenagers; February 2010. Available at https://www.iihs.org/topics/bibliography/ref/1883.
- Wheaton AG, Olsen EO, Miller GF, Croft JB. Sleep Duration and Injury-Related Risk Behaviors Among High School Students — United States, 2007–2013. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:337–341. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6513a1
- Testa, C. R., & Steinberg, L. (2010). Depressive symptoms and health-related risk-taking in adolescence. Suicide & life-threatening behavior, 40(3), 298–305. https://doi.org/10.1521/suli.2010.40.3.298