Rural Americans are much more likely to die in motor vehicle crashes; Alabamians urged to wear seat belts


CONTACT: Betsy Cagle
(334) 206-3995
[email protected]

Motor vehicle crashes are among the leading causes of death in the U.S. A recent study found the rate of death for adult drivers and passengers from motor vehicle crashes is 3 to 10 times higher among rural Americans. The simple act of buckling seat belts can prevent needless loss of life.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined passenger vehicle occupant deaths among adults ages 18 or older. The study found lower seat belt use, higher death rates, and a higher proportion of drivers and passengers in rural areas were not buckled up at the time of the fatal crash. About 40 percent of Alabamians live in rural areas.

Seat belt use prevented an estimated 64,000 deaths in the United States during 2011-2015. The study found that “increasing rurality is consistently shown to be associated with increased crash-related death rates and lower seat belt use.” Wearing seat belts has been shown to reduce the risk of serious injury or death by about 50 percent.

To buckle up safely

  • Lap and shoulder belts should be secured across the pelvis and rib cage. These areas are better able to withstand crash forces than other parts of the body.
  • Place the shoulder belt across the middle of the chest and away from the neck.
  • The lap belt needs to rest across the hips, not the stomach.
  • NEVER put the shoulder belt behind the back or under an arm.

Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them. Motor vehicle occupants who do not buckle up could be thrown into a rapidly opening frontal air bag. Such force could injure or even kill.

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