A person buckles a seat belt inside a vehicle.

Data Shows Buckling Up Saves Lives in Auto Crashes

A person buckles a seat belt inside a vehicle.
Buckling up greatly reduces the risk of dying in a vehicle crash (Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels).

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nearly half of the people killed in auto crashes in Alabama last year were not wearing a seat belt, according to an analysis of state crash records.

A data analysis study conducted by The University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety using recently released 2018 Alabama crash data showed crash victims who die are often reported as not wearing a seat belt.

Of the 743 persons killed in vehicles that were equipped with restraints in 2018 in Alabama, 366, about half, were not wearing their seat belts.

“Seat belts are the most effective way of keeping yourself alive in a crash,” said Dr. David Brown, research associate at UA’s Center for Advanced Public Safety.

The study showed that the probability of dying in a crash is about 50 times higher when unrestrained. In general, less that one in 1,000 occupants involved in motor vehicle crashes are killed when restrained. This probability increases to one in 24 when not restrained.

“The very last thing you ever want to experience in a car crash is to be ejected out onto the roadway,” Brown said. “If you do survive, ejections that are not fatal usually result in extremely severe injury.”

Without a seat belt, the probability of ejection increases about 500 times, and, if ejected, the probability of death increases by another 200 times, he said.

The national seat belt enforcement mobilization effort known as the Click It or Ticket program begins in mid-May and runs into early June. Additional traffic enforcement will be conducted during this effort with an emphasis on Memorial Day weekend.


Adam Jones, UA communications, 205-348-4328, adam.jones@ua.edu