Seat belts save lives, money

An Airman buckles his seatbelt before starting his car May 7 at Bolling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dan DeCook)

An Airman buckles his seatbelt before starting his car May 7 at Bolling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dan DeCook)

BOLLING AFB, D.C. -- According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seat belts saved over 15,700 American lives in 2005, while preventing 350,000 serious injuries and $67 billion in economic costs.

With the summer months quickly approaching, it is time Airmen start thinking about safety according to leadership.

"Our Airmen are the most important resource we have in the Air Force," said Senior Master Sgt. Ronald J. Olszewski, 11th Mission Support Squadron first sergeant. "The Airmen are the ones who get the mission accomplished, so their safety is a high priority."

A simple way to help maintain safety and save money is wearing a seat belt at all times.

The consequences for not taking this simple action can be deadly. Nearly 60 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes that year were unrestrained.

Research has shown that properly used lap and shoulder belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and moderate to critical injury by 50 percent. For light truck occupants, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent and moderate-to-critical injury by 65 percent.

Seat belts should always be worn, even if air bags are equipped. Air bags are designed to work with safety belts, not by themselves. Air bags, by themselves, have a fatality-reducing effectiveness of only 12 percent.

Not wearing your seat belt can do more that hurt you physically; it can hurt your bank account. Without seat belts you may risk significant financial loss. The needless deaths and injuries from non use of seat belts result in an estimated $26 billion annually in economic costs to society.

Seat belt use saves an estimated $50 billion annually in medical care, lost productivity, and other injury related bills.

The cost of unbuckled drivers and passengers goes far beyond those killed and the loss to their families. So whether you are heading off to the wilderness for a camping trip or the beach to hit some waves, make sure you arrive safely with your seat belt buckled.

For more information, call the 11th Wing Safety Office at (202) 767-7439 or logon to www.nhtsa.dot.gov.