According to the CDC, “Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among those aged 1-54 in the U.S.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studied data from Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and identified several behaviors that have low likelihodd of fatalities including 1) Being in a pickup (compared to a passenger car); 2) Being in a sport utility vehicle (compared to a passenger car); 3) Being in a van (compared to a passenger car); 4) Being age 0-19 (compared to age 20-29); 5) Being age 70 or older (compared to age 20-29); 6) Being restrained (compared to unrestrained); 7) Being in a multi-vehicle crash (compared to a single vehicle crash).
“Other statistics coming from the CDC, “More than half (range: 53%-59%) of teens (13-19 years) and adults aged 20-44 years who died in crashes in 2014 were unrestrained at the time of the crash.; Young adult drivers and passengers (18-24) have the highest crash-related non-fatal injury rates of all adults; and seat belts dramatically reduce risk of death and serious injury. Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45%, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%.”
Seat belt restraint has long been identified as a lifesaving tool. In an effort to reduce the number of vehicle fatalities, mandatory seat belt laws were passed in all 49 states, led by New York State in 1984. The exception was New Hampshire, which only required that children be restrained. The laws, however, differed in who was affected with some only requiring seat belt use for those traveling in the front seat. Sixteen states designated the infraction to be classified as secondary enforcement, meaning that law enforcement could not stop and ticket a driver for that offense alone.
It’s estimated that seat belt use saves 13,000 lives annually and can reduce the seriousness of injuries in a crash. On average, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) puts seat belt compliance in 2015 at 91 percent in states with primary enforcement and just 79 percent in secondary enforcement states. Some researchers claim that primary and secondary enforcement does make a difference in compliance. Based on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s report on vehicle fatalities in 2014, the state with the highest vehicle fatalities v. population ratio is Wyoming at .021. Wyoming also shows seat belt compliance at just 79 percent and it is a secondary enforcement state. The state with the lowest vehicle fatalities v. population is Rhode Island at .0002. Rhode Island is a primary enforcement state whose observed drivers comply 87 percent of the time.
Public Safety Exemptions
For years, First Responders have wrestled with developing a system that can get their colleagues to buckle up, but it seems to be an insurmountable challenge. In 2014, nine firefighters died in road accidents. Five of the victims were not wearing a seat belt. Of the five, three ejected, two were not. Excessive speed and weather conditions played a part in the crashes as well as failure to yield and improper passing, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA).
What has been at issue for years are mandatory seat belt exemptions in the law for public safety vehicles in some states. Massachusetts exempts “anyone involved in the operation of taxis, liveries, tractors, trucks with gross weight of eighteen thousand pounds or over, buses, and passengers of authorized emergency vehicles.”
Many EMS leaders have created policies that could be used in sourcing high quality restraints. What is necessary are restraints that fit any size of child from infant to teen. Ferno’s Neo Mate Pediatric Restraint System comfortable fit a new born weighing 7 to 14 lbs.
Ferno’s pediatric equipment solutions provide safe and effective transport and immobilization of pediatric size patients. Properly sized solutions are available for infants (0-20 lbs), toddlers (20 -40lbs), and children (40-100lbs).
Better Cars Safer Kids
The chart below provides totals of vehicle fatalities from 1975. In 2014, there is a substantial decrease in vehicle deaths that industry insiders attribute to better cars.