No matter where you are from, wearing your seatbelt is always important. In Alaska, however, this simple step can be even more important. With the twisting roads, bad weather, and a higher amount of inexperienced drivers, getting into a vehicle in Alaska can prove to be more dangerous than other places in the United States, so wearing your seatbelt should always be top of mind.
Every state has different laws surrounding seatbelt usage. Although in some states, not wearing a seatbelt is only a secondary offense—you cannot get pulled over just for not wearing a seatbelt—but in Alaska, not wearing a seatbelt is a primary offense, meaning that you can be pulled over and cited for not wearing one. According to the Center of Disease Control, states that have this as a secondary law see 80% of drivers using these restraints, while states like Alaska, that have a primary law, see this number jump to 89%.
Keeping these laws in mind, it is important to understand that you should not choose to wear a seatbelt just because it is the law. These restraints are put into place for your safety, not just to meet requirements. In the event of an accident, no matter where you are seated in the vehicle or the type of accident, wearing your seatbelt could save you from injuries or even death. According to the same study by the CDC as mentioned above, seatbelts are proven to reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half. When your life is on the line, why choose any different?
Understanding the Statistics
Motor vehicle accidents are a very common cause of death, but among teens it is the number one cause. Although we get into cars daily, this does not mean that we should forget about the dangers of driving or riding in these types of machines. Many people think that if their car has an airbag or multiple airbags, that they are safe. A very important thing to understand is that airbags are not a substitute for seatbelts. Airbags can only do so much to protect you in the event of and accident. These two things serve two different purposes. While the seatbelt is a restraint, an airbag is an added protection. In fact, without a seatbelt, the possibility of the airbag causing even more physical damage to your body heightens.
While it is important for everyone to wear a seatbelt, there are some demographics that are less likely than others, so it’s important that if you fall within one of these categories, you are making smart decisions regarding your safety. For example, adults from 18-35 are less likely to wear seatbelts than those 35 and over. Men are 10% less likely to wear them than women, and adults who live in rural areas are 10% less likely than those who reside in suburban or urban areas. Keeping that in mind, no matter your age, gender, or what part of Alaska in which you live, it is a law to wear your seatbelt.
How can you help?
First and foremost, it is important that everyone wears a seatbelt every single time that you enter a car, no matter how short the trip is. We know that some Alaskan roads can be quick to navigate, and you likely drive the same roads majority of your days. No matter how short or familiar these drives are, it is imperative that you are always wearing a seatbelt. Personally holding yourself to this standard is the first step to increasing seatbelt safety statewide.
When you are the one driving, make it a personal rule that anyone in your car must be buckled. After all, this is a law in Alaska. When operating a vehicle, you are accountable for those who are in the vehicle, meaning that if they do not have a seatbelt on, you could be charged for it. Again, however, you should not only hold your passengers to this standard because it is the law, but because it is keeping them safe. It is a common misconception that passengers in the backseat of a vehicle do not need to be buckled up. While it is true that those in the front seats are in more danger, this does not mean that riding in the back is completely safe. Seatbelts can help to prevent injury to any passenger, no matter where they are sitting.
Unfortunately, not wearing a seatbelt is a habit that a lot of people have acquired by the way that they have been raised. So if you are a parent or caregiver, you should strive to make it a habit to wear a seatbelt rather than to not wear one. Teaching the importance of these restrictions to children at a young age can create lasting habits that could end up saving their life one day. When using a car seat or booster seat, it is important to understand how the seatbelt interacts. Make sure that everything is buckled in safely and that the seat is correct for the child’s appropriate weight. If a child is too big or too small for a specific car seat, it could cause a variety of physical damages in the event of an accident. Failure to wear a seatbelt reduces damage claim under theories of comparative fault or failure to mitigate. Insurance companies (the other side) can say the failure to wear a seatbelt contributed to injuries sustained in car wreck and those arguments reduce damage claim by % of failure to wear seatbelt.
The safest spot in the vehicle is the middle of the backseat. This is because impact can happen from any side and the person will not be on the side of impact. However, seatbelts in the middle of the backseat can often be very tricky to maneuver. If you can, place your child in the middle of the backseat, but only if you can safely restrain them with the proper seatbelt.
Injuries still happen.
No matter how cautious or responsible you are about wearing a seatbelt, injuries can still happen as the result of an accident. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another, you deserve compensation. Call an experienced car accident attorney at Kelley & Canterbury LLC today.