Fewer Alabama Motorists Wearing Seat Belts

An analysis of recent citations for seat belt violations and related fatalities among Alabama drivers reveals a significant problem, one highlighted by the recent death of a teenage couple killed in a single vehicle crash in Bay Minette in January. Neither were wearing a seat belt.

Law enforcement officials report more than 240 people killed in Alabama crashes last year weren’t wearing seat belts. The year before, nearly 60 percent of those killed in car accidents in the state were not buckled up. That same year, officials tallied 42,000 seat belt violation citations.

Alabama state troopers are imploring drivers and passengers not to take the risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes teen are especially at risk, far less likely to wear seat belts than drivers over 30 and far more likely than their older counterparts to die in a crash.

Montgomery car accident lawyers know seat belts save lives, and they can also go a long way in preventing serious injury.

One unfortunate problem is the now-erroneous belief that passengers in the back seat don’t require a seat belt. This is perpetuated in Alabama by the fact that state law only requires back seat passengers under 15 to buckle up. While front passengers must always buckle up, older passengers in the back seat are free to go without. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

A recent report following the death of veteran correspondent Bob Simon, who was not buckled in the back seat of a livery cab at the time of a horrible collision, indicates those who ride in the back seat may in fact be in a more precarious spot. It used to be the front passenger seat was referred to as the “death spot.” And for a long time, it was true. That was the most dangerous position in the car, and it’s also where 88 percent of adult passengers sit.

But auto manufacturers and safety advocates made improving safety in that seat a priority, with air bags and better impact absorption features. Meanwhile, very little progress has been done to address safety concern for backseat passengers.

Given many states don’t require back seat passengers to be belted in, it lends a false sense of security about the practice.

The one bit of good news for injured passengers or surviving loved ones is that a victim’s decision whether to wear a seat belt should not impact his or her ability to recover compensation from the at-fault driver – at least in Alabama. We are one of 31 states that have rejected the so-called “seat belt defense,” in which defendants attempt to reduce the degree of damages by an estimation of injuries victim would have suffered had he or she worn a seat belt, as opposed to what they actually suffered.

Still, passengers would be wise to wear their seatbelt. One excuse given for skipping this crucial step is they are only driving a short distance, so they feel comfortable doing so. Others just cite general forgetfulness. However, law enforcement and local medical teams report witnessing horrific and sometimes fatal injuries for those who chose not to buckle up. It only takes a second. Failure to do so could take a lot more.

Call Allred & Allred P.C. at 334.396.9200 to speak with a Montgomery personal injury lawyer.

Additional Resources:
Why aren’t Alabama residents wearing seat belts? Jan. 30, 2015, By Cassie Fambro, AL.com
More Blog Entries:
Rice v. Corasanti – Pre-Death Suffering a Factor in Wrongful Death Claim, Feb. 22, 2015, Montgomery Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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