Arizona Seatbelt Laws
‘Seatbelts save lives.’ We all hear it, but it’s turned into background noise. Today we’re going review seat belt laws, some statistics, and insights in the hope that you’ll have a better understanding of the push for people to wear seatbelts.
The law in Arizona
According to Officer Walter Olsen of the Phoenix Police Department, in Arizona, all front-seat occupants must be restrained in a properly fitted seat belt. Any passenger under 16 years of age, whether in the front or back seat, must wear a seatbelt.
There are exceptions, such as if the vehicle is equipped to carry ten or more passengers, and a 1972 or earlier model year. Also, in Arizona, driving without a seatbelt is considered a secondary offense.
What is a secondary offense?
Say you’re driving down the road and the police notice you aren’t wearing a seatbelt. Technically, police can’t pull you over and give you a ticket if that is your only offense.
But, according to the CDC, states which have a primary enforcement law have a 92% compliance rate, whereas states with a secondary enforcement law have only an 83% compliance rate.
32 states currently have a ‘secondary offense’ law.
What a seatbelt does
Seatbelts strap a person into the seat, so they don’t fly around in the event of a crash. Since the body will continue to move forward if the car hits something, the impact will be approximately the same speed as the car was running before impact.
To put this in context, a passenger riding in a vehicle going 50 mph will be flung forward at the same speed as a person who lands on the ground after falling 138 feet. Even a passenger in a 30 mph crash will yield the net impact of falling 62 feet, or about the same velocity as jumping off a six-story building.
What a seatbelt doesn’t do
Professor John Adams of the University College London, a risk expert, claims that seatbelts don’t automatically make us safer. The reason, he surmises, is because drivers and riders are lulled into a false sense of security. The driver takes risks he might not otherwise choose, such as speeding (the freefall equivalent of adding more floors to the building.)
How many lives do seatbelts save?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 14,000 lives were saved by seatbelts in 2015. They reduce deaths and injuries about half (45%).
Who is wearing seatbelts?
We are right at the 90% compliance level as a nation. This number is statistically a rise in seat belt usage from 2015 (88%), and the number of fatalities per driver has declined at about the same rate as seatbelt usage has risen.
Who isn’t wearing one?
Statistics show that the following groups are less compliant than the rest of the population:
- rear seat passengers
- Residents of non-metropolitan areas
- Drivers in secondary offense states
‘I have an airbag.’
An airbag is likely going to punch you right in the face as you fly out of the car if there is a severe accident and you aren’t wearing your seatbelt since airbags are not designed to keep you in the car. They’re designed to prevent you from further injury by the dash and windshield. In fact, in Europe, some airbags have sensors built into the seatbelt which registers there is an occupant in the seat by use of the seat belt. It also takes time for the airbag to deploy, the theory being that if you’re wearing a seatbelt, it holds you in place long enough to give the airbag the milliseconds it needs to inflate and save you from further injury.
The most significant punishment for not wearing a seatbelt isn’t having an accident while not wearing one. It’s when someone else emulates your behavior, and that person has an accident while not wearing one. People who love and admire us will subconsciously do what we do, so it’s much more than merely a personal choice to wear (or not wear) a seatbelt.
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