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How can seat belts help prevent serious injury in accidents?

Probably no driver in the state of New Hampshire is unaware that seat belts save lives. While there's a legal push to keep drivers and passengers safely within belts when vehicles are on the move, some people may not realize all the ways seat belts can protect you in an accident or other situation. According to the Highway Safety Research Center at one U.S. college, seat belts offer protection in six ways.

One of the biggest ways safety belts save lives during accidents is that they keep people inside of the vehicle. Statistics show that individuals who are ejected from a vehicle during an accident are four times more likely to experience fatal injuries and death than those who remain in the cabin.

Seat belts are designed to make contact with a body where the body is strongest in structure. This is why child seats and safety restraints are so important, because their bodies differ from older children and adults. During an accident, seat belt stress is then put on the stronger areas to reduce injury. They are also designed to spread as much stress over the body as possible to reduce injury of impact areas.

Seat belts also work in conjunction with vehicle crumple zones, which are designed to reduce the speed impact of an accident. Without a seat belt, occupants would be thrown completely forward. By holding passengers and drivers in place, seat belts ensure they receive the full benefit of the crumple.

Finally, seat belts keep individuals from being tossed about in the cabin during an accident. This keeps injuries from occurring because you slammed into another person in the car or against doors, seats or other things.

Even with a seat belt on, injury during an accident is not always avoided. If you have suffered injury -- whether or not you were wearing a seat belt -- and the accident was the fault of another party, you are entitled to seek compensation for damages associated with your injuries.

Source: The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, "How Safety Belts Prevent Injuries" accessed Jan. 22, 2015

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