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Seat belt usage is at an all-time high here in the United States. Specifically, here in California we have a 95% usage rate. That’s great news for saving lives and avoiding personal injury. Yet we still have over 3 million Californians that don’t buckle up and that costs our communities over 26 billion a year for motor vehicle injuries and deaths for unbelted passengers.

If you’ve been driving anywhere in Orange County or throughout California recently, you’ve noticed the “Click It or Ticket” mobilization of law enforcement. Their goal is to have 100% of Californians buckled up. Fines can range from $80 to $400, depending on the county. The CHP doesn’t want to hand out tickets, they want to save lives.

Wearing a seat belt will reduce your risk of personal injury or death by 50%. In addition your risk decreases as you drive mini-vans, S.U.V’s and trucks with restraint devices. These types of vehicles tend to be more rigid in an accident and they actually absorb more of the shock during the impact. But whatever type of car you drive, buckling up saves lives and prevents personal injury.

If you have been injured in any type of automobile accident, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Allen, Flatt, Ballidis and Leslie are a law firm that has knowledgeable lawyers ready to assist you through this experience.

Although the safety factor for seat belt use is clearly there, there are some individuals that still refuse to buckle up. 68% of teens that were killed in car crashes were unbuckled. Peer pressure does play a role in teens not using seat belts, and their friends typically don’t want to “tell them what to do”.

Though, the most common argument against seat belt usage is that it is uncomfortable. Two groups of individuals that typically complain about this don’t wear their seat belts are pregnant women and the overweight/obese. According to a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, obese people are more likely to die or be severely injured in an accident due to lack of seat belt use.

Just 10 years ago, automakers made belts 12 inches longer than what was required by federal law. Today belts are typically 18-20 inches longer. Most automakers have utilized this standard of providing extra length on seat belts for the U.S. market. Moreover, some manufacturers have “extenders” that can be purchased separately. These will provide additional support, but must not be used with children.

Auto engineers are now designing wider seats and more comfortable safety belts for the average consumer. Currently there are about 40 million American considered obese and another 58 million designated overweight. That’s a large target group of people needing new restraint technology.

Four point belts, like the type NASCAR drivers wear is an additional alternative for some drivers. This allows the larger individual comfort, ease of use, and in some circumstances, a safer experience.

Lastly, whatever your age or size, remember to buckle up for safety.