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Seatbelts Save Lives in Vehicle Collisions

CBS News correspondent Bob Simon was not wearing a seatbelt when he died in a motor vehicle collision in New York City the other day.  Mr. Simon was in a Lincoln Town Car limousine, which was accelerating into traffic jam.  Mr. Simon was pronounced dead at the hospital later in the evening.  The driver and the other two passengers in the same vehicle were not critically injured.

Flash back to 1997 when Princess Di was killed in a motor vehicle collision – the Mercedes limousine she was in crashed into a concrete barrier at a speed exceeding 70 miles per hour — yet, engineering studies (by Renfore Engineering in Farmington, Arkansas) indicate that had she been wearing a seatbelt, she would likely have survived.  The bodyguard in the vehicle, who was wearing a seatbelt, was not critically injured.  The investigation actually showed that he was not wearing a seatbelt initially, however, sometime during the chase with the paparazzi he put his belt on, likely saving his life.

We don’t have the reconstructive reports from Mr. Simon’s accident, but we can’t help but notice the sad similarities in these two instances:  the Princess and the television news star, both in large, protective vehicles, both killed when the vehicles rammed into another object, both not wearing seatbelts, while others in the vehicles wearing seatbelts survived.

Negligent Driving Causes Wrongful Deaths

Also worth noting is that both collisions seem to be a result of reckless driving – in the French tunnel where Princess Di crashed, the intoxicated judgment of the chauffeur was found to be the cause of the collision.  In the New York accident there were no skid marks, the driver was newly licensed and the Simon vehicle was the only one accelerating at the collision site.

While the collisions in the cases cited above are infamous, many motor vehicle collisions causing wrongful death are the result of similar negligence – speeding into another vehicle while not paying attention, negligently switching lanes, inattention due to being impaired, or falling asleep while driving.

Seatbelts, Statistics and Just Plain Common Sense

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and death by about half.  This statistic fits in with the above two tragedies.  The CDC finds that of teenagers, 55% of deaths were as a result of failure to wear seat belts; adults 18-34 are less likely to wear seat belts than older adults; men are 10% less likely to wear seat belts; rural dwellers are 10% less likely to use seat belts.

Most significantly in Massachusetts is that folks living in secondary enforcement states have a lower use -80% versus 89%.  That is, the police are not allowed to stop a vehicle for violation of the seat belt law in Massachusetts, however, if they stop a vehicle for another reason, they are permitted to ticket for failing to wear a seat belt.

Retain a Personal Injury Lawyer With Experience

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by the negligence of another, call Attorney Neil Burns who has 29 years of experience helping victims of motor vehicle collisions in Massachusetts.  The consultation is free and there is no fee until we will.  Call 617-227-7423 for the free consultation.