Convince my boyfriend to wear a seat belt.
April 5, 2011 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Convincing statistics about seat belts: I need them.

Pretty much everyone agrees that it's safer to wear a seat belt. Even my boyfriend agrees, kind of, but admits that unless I'm in the car to remind him, he doesn't wear one. And when I do remind him, he inexplicably prefers to drive for a couple minutes before buckling up. He wears one on I-95, but not for "regular" driving. He mentioned the Snopes-disproven idea that seat belts are dangerous if the car is on fire or underwater. He is, I believe, in denial.

I have undoubtedly irritated the shit out of him about it, so here's what I'm looking for: concise, reputable, difficult-to-deny and even-easier-to-remember information that will make him cringe before forgetting to wear his f-ing seat belt again. It should not require a lecture to deliver, but should be something I can throw out at him quickly.

For instance: what percentage of fatal accidents are due to not wearing seat belts? What percentage of accidents happens in the first few minutes that he doesn't want to wear one? How likely is he to get in an accident? What is a low-speed neighborhood crash like: falling off a ten-story building, or just falling down the steps? I don't need ALL the information ever produced on seat belt benefits: I could look that up. What I'm looking for is the most shocking, most undeniable and unarguable, most likely to stick in his thick f-ing head information that you think I should present to him.

I want to know what you think would work.
posted by sarling to Travel & Transportation (52 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think any danger statistics are going to convince him. Some people are just invulnerable to that sort of logic; it's hardly unusual. Instead, tell him how much he'll be fined if a cop catches him driving sans seat belt. The threat to his wallet might get you better results.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:45 AM on April 5, 2011

Response by poster: In all the years he's been driving, I don't think he's ever gotten a seat belt ticket. He'll take his chances there.
posted by sarling at 11:51 AM on April 5, 2011

I assume that you've already seen the NHTSA Driving Safety Occupant Protection pages. Of particular interest the "Medical cost savings with primary seatbelt laws" studies down there on the lower right side.

Although I tend to agree with Faint of Butt that the reasons here aren't logical and won't be fought with logic.
posted by straw at 11:56 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

How about you just refuse to get in the car with him if he isn't properly buckled up? If he wants to die flying head first through the windshield you don't want to witness it. If not belting up is more important than your company, well you just learned something very valuable.
posted by COD at 11:59 AM on April 5, 2011 [12 favorites]

The NHTSA has what looks to be a pretty big database on driving fatalities.

For example

Also "Fires occurred in 0.1 percent of the vehicles involved in all traffic crashes in 2007. For fatal crashes, however, fire s occurred in 3 percent of the vehicles involved".

It's mentioned in the snopes article but burning or drowning to death in a car are super unlikely.
posted by ghharr at 12:00 PM on April 5, 2011

Best answer: If quoting facts at him doesn't work, perhaps a visit to your local firehouse / rescue squad would help. Give them a call (on the non-emergency line) or shoot them an email and ask if they'd be willing to talk to your boyfriend about the importance of buckling up and what can happen if you don't. Maybe a few stories from first responders about picking up body parts scattered across the roadway when crash victims are ejected from cars will scare him into taking 3 seconds to buckle up.
posted by geeky at 12:06 PM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


In 2000, NHTSA conducted the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS). The overall observed shoulder belt use rate was 71 percent, compared to 69 percent observed in 1998, 61 percent in 1996, and 58 percent in 1994.

Assuming that and looking at the table I linked above, in 2000 55% of traffic fatalities were people not wearing restraints, so I think that means that 55% of all fatalities came from the 29% of the population that don't wear seatbelts.
posted by ghharr at 12:06 PM on April 5, 2011

I might recommend some (snarky) visceral teaching for this one.

Start driving very erratically.

Perhaps the next time he's in the car during "normal driving" stab the brakes as hard and abruptly as possible so he can "safely" get to know the dashboard.
posted by desl at 12:07 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Facts aren't gonna do it. The best you can hope for is maybe tell him that you care about him very much and ask him to do this one thing as a personal favor to you, even if he thinks the whole thing is silly.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:09 PM on April 5, 2011

Just don't let him get in your car if he doesn't want to wear a seat belt.
Keep in mind, he's an adult and can do whatever he wants.
And I personally don't think statistics will cure him of his aversion to seatbelts.
posted by KogeLiz at 12:09 PM on April 5, 2011

If he is in an accident and is injured more severly, could he possibly be considered negligent (lawyers of MeFi, is this the case in all/many/some jusrisdictions?)?

What kind of car does he have? Bertrand (my 2010 Elantra) will not STFU if I go above 5mph with no seatbelt and BEEPS until I buckle up. (Sometimes on my grandmother's very long private dirt road drive, I don't buckle up immediately and Bertrand hassles me until I do).
posted by pointystick at 12:12 PM on April 5, 2011

You cannot argue or convince an irrational being. Move on.
posted by Brian Puccio at 12:15 PM on April 5, 2011

I don't have a statistic for you, and have never been particularly resistant to wearing a seat belt, but one thing that made an impression on me was this illustration of the absurdity of the idea some people have that they can put out their hands and stop themselves from splatting on the dashboard in in a low-speed crash:
The world record speed for a running human is about (27mph or so). You can probably run half that speed. So go out to the far end of your yard, run as fast as you can at your house, put out your hands and see if you can stop your body, at 15mph or so, from slamming into the house.
No, I didn't have to actually try this to be convinced.
posted by jon1270 at 12:18 PM on April 5, 2011 [8 favorites]

Whatever you do, don't let him sit behind you. The impact might not be good for you even at relatively slow speeds.
posted by tel3path at 12:27 PM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

What proof does one need? If he bangs into an obstacle at, say, 35 miles and hour, his car will stop after a bit of a crunch, and he'll just fly on at the end speed. Right into the windscreen. This is physical laws for five-year-olds.
(Or what jon1270 says...)
posted by Namlit at 12:28 PM on April 5, 2011

I very rarely use a seatbelt either, and I was an EMT for years and scraped up plenty of folks ejected from cars.

I think that instead of nagging him about something that is his own choice, you should do what my husband does with me and buckle your own seatbelt and let him worry about whether or not to buckle his.
posted by crankylex at 12:29 PM on April 5, 2011

Maybe deathriskrankings can help. You can estimate your risk of dying in micromorts (one in a million chance of dying). I don't know the age of your bf, but accidents is the biggest one for people in their 20-30s.

Also, maybe have him get an annual physical too. The big items that pretty much any doctor will tell you are: wear your seat belts, don't smoke, eat better, and get exercise.

There's also a logical argument: there is miniscule benefit in not wearing a seatbelt, and a huge upside to wearing it. Maybe have him take one of those tests showing just how bad people are in estimating risks. (Pigs and hippos kill more people per year than sharks, but people fear sharks...)

Lastly, maybe you can try an appeal to authority and try to get asavage to weigh in, as he did here on leaving a candle on in a bathroom. Again,
posted by jasonhong at 12:31 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

My first thought was also, have him talk to an ER physician or nurse. They can ABSOLUTELY tell who comes in from an accident where they wore a seatbelt, and who comes in from an accident who didn't ... when the ones who didn't wear seatbelts make it to the ER at all. I had a roommate who was an EMT who was at the scene of an accident where three of four participants in the accident were in seatbelts; the three with seatbelts had minor bruises and abrasions, the one without was ejected through the windshield, flew something like fifty feet, landed on his head, and died. The other three literally walked away from the accident. THAT is the difference, and I think stories like that might make more of an impression than statistics.

Personally, if he was going to get in my car and refuse to put on a seatbelt, I would refuse to put the car in gear until he did, which is the same thing I do with recalcitrant children who refuse to put on seatbelts. We can sit there all day for all I care; I'm not going to be responsible for driving someone who won't engage in basic safety precautions. I don't want it on my conscience. Which of course doesn't fix him driving alone without a seatbelt, but at least gets him buckled up when you're driving.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:32 PM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

I only know the UK research on this but the following link is to a literature review commissioned by the Ministry of Transport [PDF]:

Seat belts are 50% effective at preventing fatalities for front- and rear-seat passengers. The combination of a seat belt and a fitted airbag for drivers is even more effective, preventing over 65% of fatalities. Seat belts are also effective at preventing less serious injuries, with an average effectiveness of 32% for all serious injuries.

Using the proportion of unbelted occupants, it is estimated that over 500 fatalities and over 3,000 serious casualties do not wear a seat belt. Using the estimated effectiveness of seat belts, this means that over 350 lives and over 1,000 serious casualties could be prevented each year in the UK* if everyone wore a seat belt. This would be equivalent to a benefit of over £600 million per year.

* The UK has a population of about 60 million. The US equivalent figures would be about 1,750 lives saved and over 5,000 serious casualties prevented, assuming seat belt usage is similar there.

But if you want to shock him, the UK does some terrifying adverts showing the effects of not wearing your seatbelt, even at low speed. Show him this (if you want to emphasise effect on his family), or this (for a scenario where a passenger in the rear seat is unbelted), or this (for a low speed neighbourhood crash). Or get him to play the Flash game here.
posted by greycap at 12:32 PM on April 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

If he was gonna be scared of statistics, he would have been scared already.

The reason I started wearing seatbelts is because steering wheels are for steering and not for keeping you in position relative to the car.

I had a 78 Malibu Classic with a vinyl full bench seat and taste for whipping shitties. One day, I was travelling down a country road and thought I'd fishtail through a slight bend and totally lost control when I slid all the way across that seat and clung to the steering wheel for dear life.

It took me three hours to dig out of that ditch.

To this day, I always wear my seatbelt because of that.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:43 PM on April 5, 2011

I made it an unwritten, unspoken part of our wedding vows that my husband was now obligated to wear a seatbelt 100% of the time. It worked. YMMV (a bad pun in a thread like this), but I do think it's a serious enough thing to have an ultimatum over. People are willing to dump their partners over smoking cigarettes; not wearing a seatbelt is just as risky and much easier to give up.

You care about him. He may not care about himself yet, but I'm sure he cares about you. Your entry into each other's lives means that a lot of outdated habits need to change, out of consideration for the other person. You can present this as one of them.
posted by gentian at 12:45 PM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

Obviously, I agree with all the videos and stats everyone else has posted, but I don't think they'll work. I don't think this is a logical thing, and I don't think you'll have much luck rewiring his brain so he feels fundamentally unsafe without a belt (which is what makes me wear mine, not numbers and stats.)

I think you have to treat this like any hard limit, stop discussing it, and just say what you will and won't do - control your behavior, not his - tell him "I won't get in the car unless you have your belt on" and stick to it. Don't argue, just make it clear what he needs to do to get you to do what he wants you to do, and be consistent.
posted by crabintheocean at 12:45 PM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

If he's convinced that seat belts pose an extrication hazard in case of water or fire, the thing to do is to buy an extrication tool with a serrated blade (for the seat belt) and one of those pneumatic shatter-the-window hammers for each car and make sure it's easy to get to in an emergency.

Then he can't bitch, because if the fire or the water hasn't rendered him unconscious, he can cut himself loose and pop the window.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:56 PM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

1. It's the law.
2. Forget about his own life and the fact that he's much more liable to be seriously injured or die without a seatbelt; think of the other person in the other car, who might have to live the rest of his/her life with guilty of seriously injuring or killing someone.
posted by litnerd at 1:00 PM on April 5, 2011

What I'm looking for is the most shocking, most undeniable and unarguable, most likely to stick in his thick f-ing head information that you think I should present to him.

I'd suggest "wear your seat belt every time you get in the car or we're through." Assuming you feel strongly enough about it.

I am sure this will anger some other folks (as all DTMFA advice always does) but I'd personally put this in a category of "risky behavior with serious potential to negatively impact me." You may not feel the same way - some folks have a "love conquers all" attitude about their partner's behavior. But since I don't see this kind of behavior having any payoff I wouldn't personally be willing to deal with the potential risks that come with it. Both financial and emotional.

If you're just trying to find practical this-is-what-happens examples I think jon1270's example of injury to your arms is a good one. People regularly injure their wrists just from trying to stop themselves when they fall forward. That's a speed that doesn't come close to a strike at 35mph. I'd avoid stats about death; I cannot think that anyone who views their own death as something possible would leave off their belt.

Perhaps you can split the difference and point out that even if he doesn't believe in these statistics, you do, and it upsets you to think about dealing with his injuries.
posted by phearlez at 1:00 PM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

There's also the possibility that he's simply resisting being told what to do. If he's particularly proud and/or if you have a penchant for "I told you so" or pointing out when you're right and he's wrong, he's likely to hold onto this for much longer than he otherwise would.

Likewise if you're prone to nag (in his opinion).

Seconding crabintheocean's advice.
posted by toomuchpete at 1:01 PM on April 5, 2011

My uncle is a fireman and the thing he said that stuck with me most was this:

"I've never met a fireman or EMT who had to unbuckle a corpse."

In all his years and all his experience he never once showed up to the scene of an accident and had to unbuckle a dead body. Everyone who was wearing a seatbelt was taken out of the car alive. (FWIW he was a fireman in a good sized city, not some small rural town.)
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:01 PM on April 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

Unfortunately this has clearly come down to a situation where it's him versus what he sees as your nagging.

The "prefers to wait a few minutes before buckling up" is the dead giveaway, there. He's not going to put it on as soon as you tell him to, no sirree! He'll... put it on in a few minutes, so it looks like his own idea. Harrumpf!

Some people are fact-proof, or just so contrarian that they will literally risk their lives in the name of defying authority. It sounds like he's a little bit of both.

So how about a new approach? Surely there's something that you do, that he has been nagging you about. Eating better, exercising more, not leaving dirty dishes in the sink, whatever.

Maybe you can agree to a truce: you'll do X, if he promises to wear his seatbelt whenever the car is in motion.
posted by ErikaB at 1:13 PM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

Not data, but an easy-to-remember anecdote: my boyfriend is an ER doc. His very, very favorite, most satisfying job used to be digging shards of windshield glass out of people's faces after medium-speed crashes in which little other damage was done to the person (it's right up there with popping someone's shoulder back in its socket, apparently- a reasonable degree of finesse required but you feel like you're really getting something done, so it's rewarding). He never gets to do that anymore, partly because windshield glass is safer now but also because pretty much everyone wears seatbelts, so almost no one gets a faceful of glass unless the accident is so totally horrifying they're going to have a lot more immediate problems than glass in their face. Your boyfriend could give mine a rewarding few hours unless he shapes up.

A relationship suggestion you didn't ask for, as a bonus: my current boyfriend and I, over a long long hike early in our relationship, agreed on a couple different health and quality of life things that one of us is able to tell the other person to do and the other person just has to do them, no arguing or fussing: sunscreen, sunglasses, water, a stop for a snack/rest, re-evaluation/turnaround if one of us thinks we're over our heads in terms of safety, helmets while biking/blading/downhill skiing and, yes, seatbelts. Maybe you both together can come up with a similar list for the two of you so that he feels you're working with him, not against him.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:15 PM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

He need to try the Convincer
posted by canoehead at 1:21 PM on April 5, 2011

Point out that if you're in the car with him and there's an accident, you could be injured by his unrestrained body, despite wearing a seatbelt yourself.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 1:32 PM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

Also, if he really loves you, he doesn't want your to have to behold/take care of the mess (other alternatives edited away. You get the gist).
posted by Namlit at 1:46 PM on April 5, 2011

"you". My keyboard has a mind of its own today.
posted by Namlit at 1:47 PM on April 5, 2011

Maybe show him some of the many crash videos on YouTube? Like this one.
posted by gnutron at 2:09 PM on April 5, 2011

I have a cousin like this who insists that the law requiring her to wear a seatbelt is an invasion of her privacy. She tries to get away with not wearing one in my car and insisting she'll pay the fine if we get pulled over, but I don't want points on my license. So my solution to that is when she's riding with me, the car doesn't move until her seat belt is on.

I was in a very bad accident in 2009. I was wearing a lower-cut shirt and have a scar where the seatbelt left a friction burn on my chest. My cousin says "see you have a scar now!" My reply to her is that I would take that scar any day over hitting the windshield or air bag and getting broken bones, or worse.

You're not likely to convince someone to wear a seatbelt if they're really dead-set against it. Maybe having to pay a few tickets if it's required in your state would change his mind.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:42 PM on April 5, 2011

He's not in denial - you're annoying him. When you remind him and he waits, it's not inexplicable.

Trying to objectively convince him isn't going to do it if that approach hasn't already worked, and quick nagging is still nagging. What worked to convince me was that the nagging about it stopped, and he asked me very calmly if I would please wear it because it made him feel better and he would appreciate it, even if it didn't seem important to me. So a simple "please do this for me" might work best. Also, get him one of those cool seat belt emergency thingies.

You may prefer that he wear one, but you can't make him. Hey, on preview I agree with Erika B - now that I remember there was a tradeoff at some point, but I forget now what he stopped doing for me.
posted by mrs. taters at 2:44 PM on April 5, 2011

You know, you don't have to change his thinking, just his actions. That's what matters. Don't start the car, if you're driving, til he has his seat belt on - and don't make a big nagging deal of it, just state it calmly and wait. and wait and wait and wait, if necessary. And the same with going when he's driving. Don't close your door til he's buckled in. That one's trickier, though.

Another thing that might work - make it a birthday present. Or christmas, anniversary, etc. He doesn't have to understand, h doesn't have to even agree, but you can tell him that all you want is his promise to wear his seat belt. It's a pretty easy gift, he might go for that idea ;)
posted by lemniskate at 2:44 PM on April 5, 2011

I dated a live-fast-die-young woman who refused to wear a seatbelt. Because she was an adult and I respected her (though not her opinion), I didn't offer any ultimatums, but I refused to drive with her unless she was wearing a seatbelt. And I made it clear to her that even if she didn't care if she died in a car crash, it mattered to me, and her reckless disregard for someone I loved put a serious damper on any prospectes for a long-term relationship. I don't think she'd ever seriously entertained the idea of a long-term relationship before (she used to say she expected to be dead by 30) so it took her awhile to come around but eventually she did and wore a seatbelt, without protest and even when driving alone.

I get the impression that your boyfriend does most of the driving but you can still refuse to drive with him if he's not belted in. Appeal to his masculine instincts for protection and make it clear (as others have noted) that he's a threat to you. That regardless of what happens to him (his choice), his body will become a missle in a car crash that could kill you.

Finally, if you're going to show him a seatbelt ad, I don't think the "trauma" style videos are going to have much of an impact on him (he's a guy and guys like to be tough in the face of danger), but this one might: Embrace Life.
posted by zanni at 2:56 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You guys are amazing and this has been a fantastic grab-bag of advice: from hard statistics to tactics with which to deliver them, from insights into his thinking to constructive criticism of my approach, all of it creative and helpful.

We've already had a talk and I used so much of your input: that he could be a projectile that hurts me, that the death risk calculator shows that if he dies it will most likely be due to a car accident, that the risk from wearing one is miniscule while the benefits are proven. I asked that he do it for me, if not for himself. And he also pointed out that when he gets in my car, being chastised is annoying - which a lot of you had pointed out, in so many words.

This was all super, super helpful. Outside of our talk, I won't be starting the car until we're both buckled in - no nagging, no negotiation. I can't tell what he'll do when I'm not there, but I hope me and you guys have had an influence and it's a considerable weight off my heart.

I might compile this all into a cheat-sheet called Sarling's AskMeFi Guide to Convincing Loved Ones to Buckle Up, and I'll let you all know how it works out. In the meantime, I'll leave this unresolved because your advice is still welcome.
posted by sarling at 2:58 PM on April 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

Also, there's one other thing. If he thinks he's an awesome driver who can avoid any bad situations... tell that to the 17-year-old kid with no license and an expired permit who pulled out in front of me when I was 15 feet away, when I was going 50mph on a highway, in front of a county cop. It's not about his driving. It's about other people's driving.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:01 PM on April 5, 2011

I think that instead of nagging him about something that is his own choice, you should do what my husband does with me and buckle your own seatbelt and let him worry about whether or not to buckle his.

So, if he were drinking and wanted to drive, you wouldn't say anything, because drinking and driving is his choice? Not wearing a seatbelt is dangerous and against the law, in some states even if you are just a passenger.

My Dad used to not wear his seatbelt. When he was younger, he was in a car that crashed, he was thrown out, and the car caught fire, so he used that as an excuse. And we understood why he felt that way. But it took a cop telling him that what happened to him only happened .01% of the time, and the rest of the time the person thrown from the car is killed. That's right, about one in 10,000 cars catch on fire after an accident, never mind what you see in the movies. And the cop told my mom, as TooFewShoes said, "I've never unbuckled a dead guy."

Your boyfriend is acting like a kid, "I don't have to if I don't want to!" But this is both a legal and a safety issue. With my kids, I told them the car would not start until their seatbelts were buckled, and I stuck to that, with no exceptions. I think consistency is key here.

On preview, sarling, good for you!
posted by misha at 3:48 PM on April 5, 2011

The story of the anti-seat belt activist who was killed in accident that a seat belt would have saved him from might help.

Australia is also a great example. Australia had one of the worst crash fatality records in the world. In the early 1970s compulsorary seat belt laws started to be introduced. Australia now has one of the best road safety records in the world.

Graphs here
posted by sien at 4:15 PM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do you know why he doesn't want to wear one? Is he of an unusual size or shape?
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:34 PM on April 5, 2011

Will a personal anecdote help?

I've been in three accidents (my car has been in 5, once parked and one by another driver).

1. No fault of my own. Another driver was not paying attention to the road, didn't realize he had been in the exit lane, swerved towards me. I avoided and hit a solid concrete wall at 70mph on the very corner of my car. I walked away completely unscathed--no bruises from the seat belt, no muscle soreness, nothing was broken. My friend in the car also did not receive any injuries. Had we not been wearing our seat belts, we would have smashed through the front windshield and flown into opposing traffic (who was also going 70 mph) and probably would have caused other people to crash and been run over several times. Cars are MADE to withstand crashes by being having crumple zones on the exterior and a protective hard bubble. If you don't wear that seat belt, you force yourself into the crumple zone and out of the protective shell--ruining your chances at staying alove. People are not so much. Driving is NOT only about you. Its about other people too.

2. Slid into a snow bank on ice slick road, car toppled side ways. The only thing preventing me from crashing into the opposite side was my seat belt. My father LITERALLY had to hold me while I unbuckled my seat belt and lift me out of the car.

3. Oil spill on the highway. Three hours of almost dead traffic. Out of the blue, I get rear ended. While we were only going 5mph, I definitely could have injured my chest by being slammed into the steering wheel if I had no seat belt.

I also have been on a 12,000 mile road trip which lasted about 3 weeks. I had absolutely no incidents during that length of time. My 53 year old mother has NEVER been in an accident and has put in more that 300,000 miles on the road. Accidents can happen at any time, usually not in your control.

Finally, for the resistance to wearing one during regular driving, do you live in the country? Or really, have you seen a deer/moose near your house at all? Deer/moose crashing into cars even at low speeds can still be horrendous. They can happen any time. Google some crash pictures for you man. Shock might help.
posted by fuzzysoft at 8:27 PM on April 5, 2011

Another thing to think about is not his likelihood of getting killed, but his likelihood of surviving badly injured.

Even if he survives an accident unbelted, his chances of being paralyzed or brain-injured or having permanently decreased function (or permanent pain) in his legs or arms is still much greater than a belted driver. Paralysis can come with loss or deficit in sexual function, inability to control your bowel or bladder function, etc.

Any of those would be -- at best -- really annoying to rehab, if they can be rehabbed and don't end up as permanent problems. Any of them would really put a cramp in his style. If he prefers his autonomy (and who among us doesn't) the seatbelt is an obvious choice, because it drastically reduces the likelihood that he will be in a rehab/nursing home/brain injury recovery center for years as a young man. Ditto for helmets etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:46 PM on April 5, 2011

Haven't read through each comment in detail, but has anyone linked to this page? A paramedic explains why you should always wear your seatbelt.
posted by Dasein at 2:10 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and by the way, an anecdote. My second cousin, who lived in a country in central Africa, came to visit us about 15 years ago. We showed him around Toronto, and while we were on the way to the Science Centre, he commented that we were all wearing our seatbelts, which he never did at home as he didn’t think they made any difference in an accident. My father, displaying admirable restraint, said that they made a big difference, to which my cousin replied that he had known someone who was killed in an accident even though he was wearing his seatbelt. That was the end of the conversation.

A few years ago, we got a call. My cousin had been riding in the passenger seat of his vehicle when one of the tires blew out. The vehicle flipped. He was ejected, and the vehicle rolled over onto him. He was killed. He hadn’t been wearing his seatbelt. The driver, who had been, was unharmed.

People who don’t wear seatbelts don’t just risk their own lives, they risk ruining the lives of the family they leave behind. Seatbelts are the prerequisite to the rest of the safety equipment keeping you safe. Airbags are called supplementary restraint systems for a reason – they supplement, but don’t replace, the seatbelt. And if you need to make a sudden maneuvre on the road to keep yourself out of a crash – swerving hard one way then the other – the seatbelt tightens to keep you in your seat and in control of the wheel where otherwise you would be less in control – or possibly not in control at all – because you yourself would be sliding around.
posted by Dasein at 2:23 PM on April 6, 2011

One final anecdote – a little more than 10 years ago, when I was in a car accident (the car I was a passenger in rear-ended another car at what I think must have been less than 25 mph), I was absolutely stunned at how strong the impact was. We were braking pretty hard before the accident, and I’m not sure how fast we were going, but it wasn’t more than 30 mph, tops, and as I say probably significantly less than that. I walked away with zero injuries. One passenger in the back had a sore neck for a few days. If I hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt...I really don’t want to think about it. I would have been very seriously injured. The force of the impact was much, much more than I would have thought. I would have had no chance of bracing myself or otherwise preventing my head from impacting the dashboard or windscreen with a lot of force. And that was a relatively low-speed crash.
posted by Dasein at 2:32 PM on April 6, 2011

More personal anecdote. I was going down a two lane highway, and a car coming the opposite direction lost control and rolled over several times, across the highway and into the river. Both the driver and passenger were wearing seatbelts, so they not only survived, but walked away, only in shock, after a truck driver with handy tools helped get them out of the river. If they hadn't been wearing seatbelts, it's unlikely they would have been able to get out of the car before it was full of water, if they survived rolling at 70 mph in the first place. We got them dry clothes and sent them off in a car which was going towards the nearest hospital. (This was before cell phones.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:10 PM on April 6, 2011

I never used a seatbelt until I got into the car of an emergency room surgeon, who noticed that I had not buckled up, turned off the engine, and proceeded to describe in dry, terrifying detail the physical condition of the unbelted accident victims that he worked on most shifts. That made the danger real to me. Now I always buckle up, and pester everyone else in the car to do the same. Definitely try to get him to talk to a first responder or ER doc.
posted by Scram at 11:55 PM on April 6, 2011

Traffic fatalities are down, though cars on the road and miles driven are way up, because of seat belts and airbags. Cars are incredibly dangerous, and seat belts and airbags are a gift. I'm a lot like your sweetie; I was slow to adopt wearing my seat belt. Here's what made me start. My son, probably @ 7, brought home a little plastic dashboard picture frame that said "Somebody loves you. Please buckle up." It had a picture of us in it. Your sweetie is being oppositional. Who cares why. Keep telling him you love him, would be devastated if he were hurt, and want him to stay safe and healthy.
posted by theora55 at 4:48 AM on April 7, 2011

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