Orlando personal injury attorney James O. Cunningham recently came across a study published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration illustrating how seat belts save lives in auto accidents. According to the study, in more than 50 percent of the fatal auto accidents in this country each year, the victims are not wearing safety belts. The study shows that a properly worn seat belt reduces a front passenger’s risk of being fatally injured by 45 percent and their risk of sustaining a serious injury by 50 percent. People who buckle up in the rear seats of SUVs fare even better in accidents – 73 percent of them reduce their risk of serious injury simply by buckling up.
Most of the safety advantages of seat belt use are due to the physics of auto accidents. When a driver sees another automobile or another object in their path, he can begin the braking process in a fraction of a second. However, it is very important to note that while the car may be slowing, the driver and passengers remain traveling at the previous speed for a critically important second or two before they begin to slow down. Think about it this way: when you are driving through a parking lot at a low speed and someone suddenly backs out of a space, you tap the brakes and everyone in your vehicle lurches forward slightly. Now imagine that same situation while traveling at 55 mph instead of 5 mph.
If you are not restrained by a safety belt when the driver slows at highway speeds, you hit the steering wheel or the dashboard many times harder than you would at parking lot speeds. Essentially, the unyielding surface of the steering wheel or dashboard is absorbing all the forward momentum of your body. The problem is, they are hard, unyielding objects, and, when struck by a human body traveling at 55 mph, your body absorbs most of that energy.
Airbags are a huge leap forward in automotive safety equipment, but their effectiveness is also determined by seat belt use. This and other studies indicate that at least 80 percent of drivers and a slightly lower percentage of passengers use seat belts every time they get in an automobile. While that is a huge improvement over 30 years ago, when only 11 percent regularly used them, some drivers mistakenly believe that they don’t need to buckle up, as the airbags will protect them in an accident. Airbags are designed to protect people who are restrained by a seat belt. Without proper restraint, a driver or passenger can be thrown out of position and into an area without airbag protection and critically injured or killed by the impact.
In nearly 40 years of practicing law, Orlando auto accident attorney James O. Cunningham has assisted countless people injured in vehicular accidents, including many who learn that their devastating injuries would have been less severe if they had simply buckled their seat belt. He strongly urges everyone to buckle up every time they get into an automobile and practice defensive driving to protect themselves from serious injury.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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If you or someone you love has been injured in a vehicle accident, call toll-free at 1-888-FLA-Auto (1-888-352-2886).
Verdicts & Settlements
- Rear End Car Accident:
$3.75 Million Recovery
- Semi-Truck Accident:
$1.5 Million Recovery
- Van Rollover:
$1.2 Million Wrongful Death Recovery
- Rear End Bus Accident:
- Truck Collides with Cow: