Seat Belt Reluctance

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Last year, despite mobility restrictions due to the pandemic, almost 2,900 drivers were reported on two or more occasions in the same year for not wearing a seatbelt. This is a large number of repeat drivers and a number that has changed little in recent years.

A worrying fact if we take into account that, of the 870 people who died in 2020 in a traffic accident on interurban roads, 125 were not wearing a seatbelt (26%), and of the 2,797 people who needed to be hospitalised, 15 % weren´t belted up.

In addition to the number of lives that the belt saves each day, (there are reports that speak of more than a million since its introduction in 1958), it also significantly reduces the production of injuries and their severity.

The seat belt retains and prevents the human body from hitting hard surfaces in the event of an accident, therefore, when a person does not wear it and travels freely inside the vehicle, regardless of the seat they occupy, a simple braking causes a displacement of the body, a collision with the windshield or elements such as the dashboard or another passenger. At 50 kilometres per hour, the result of a collision is like falling from a second floor.

In fact, the impact itself can cause ruptures in internal organs. For example, a blow to the chest can fracture the ribs and turn them into blades on the lungs and stomach, just like the arteries or the bladder, it can also be broken by impact. All this without forgetting the possible injuries to the spine with the fatal consequences that they have.

If we wear the seat belt correctly, all these traumas are practically impossible.

What’s behind the reluctance?

The first dissemination campaign carried out by the General Directorate of Traffic on the use of seat belts was at the beginning of the 70s. More than 45 years have passed, and we continue to insist on its use, because people still die who are not wearing a seat belt at the moment of an accident.

If the use of this safety device is known to be life insurance, why is there still a percentage of drivers who do not use it?

The reasons are varied: short journeys, only in the urban area, going slowly … but the fact is that, in addition, traits such as overvaluing their abilities at the wheel, a general rejection of the rules or seeing only the punitive part of not take it and think that “we are not going to get caught.”

The General Council of Psychology, through its Traffic and Safety Division, considers that behind those drivers who systematically violate the law there is an erroneous or diminished perception of reality, a lack of awareness about vulnerability and fragility in the face of an accident.

In addition, all of them tend to have in common a lack of acceptance of the rules that, not only is limited to the field of traffic, but to their life in general, with impulsive, impetuous behaviours that prevent them from reflecting on the consequences that their actions may have, behaviours for themselves and for the rest of the people who travel with him in the vehicle. The lifestyle we have, the stress in which driving takes place, generates a deficient attention that blocks the automatisms at the time of carrying them out. In short, people who prefer the small immediate reward that supposedly means avoiding minimal discomfort, to the huge deferred reward of a life of health, freedom and mobility.

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