According to the Centers for Disease Control, seatbelt use reduces crash related injuries by at least 50%. Each year, North Carolina troopers try to increase seatbelt compliance by handing out citations in the "Click it or Ticket" campaign. So far this year, troopers have cited 10,288 motorist according to the Governor's Highway Safety Program. In all of 2009 only 15,132 tickets were issued to North Carolina drivers for seatbelt violations. Despite aggressive enforcement efforts, deaths due to a lack of seatbelt use are on the rise in North Carolina.
In 2011, there were 11 auto fatalities in Rowan County. In five of those, the people who died were not wearing seatbelts. So far in 2012 there have already been 8 fatalities in Rowan County and 7 of the 8 killed were not wearing a seatbelt. In January there were 3 fatalities in Rowan County and none of the drivers were wearing seatbelts. The next three involved a 21 year old woman, a 22 year old woman and a 58 year old freight driver for UPS who had driven for the company for more than 25 years. The latest fatality occurred on Old Beattys Ford Road. A car driven by Hunter Garner age 25 swerved into the oncoming lane and struck a van carrying 4 people. The impact pulled off the door and convertible top of Garner's vehicle. The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head after being thrown from the vehicle. Troopers investigating the crash were not certain if Garner could have survived the crash had he been wearing a seatbelt, but the fact that he wasn't left no doubt of the outcome. Garner's death came in what is shaping up to be an "exceedingly high" year for auto fatalities in which the people dying are not wearing their seatbelts, says N.C. State Patrol Sgt. K. L. Blakley who works Rowan County.
It's impossible to say someone would have survived if they had worn a seatbelt. But the seatbelt is always better than no protection at all. Several fatalities this year have involved motorist who wee crushed by their own vehicle after being ejected. If the vehicle overturns, you don't stand a chance if you are not able to stay inside.
Teens are the least likely to have their seatbelts on, and out of those, males use them less than females, according to the National Highway Safety Administration.
While seatbelts are required by North Carolina law, failure to use a seatbelt cannot be admitted at an injury victim's trial as evidence of contributory negligence. Thus, failure to wear a seatbelt will not prevent an accident victim from collecting compensation for personal injury claims. While in some cases a seatbelt can actually increase the likelihood or severity of injuries, this is truly quite rare. When used properly in conjunction with airbags, the lap and shoulder restraint in modern automobiles adds vastly to the safety for drivers and passengers involved in motor vehicle collisions.
For information about seatbelt failure cases, or for information about the legal rights of auto accident victims, contact a North Carolina personal injury lawyer at Nagle & Associates, P.A. This boutique style personal injury law firm only handles motor vehicle collision cases. Founding attorney Carl Nagle is a former insurance adjuster and former insurance company lawyer. After years of practice on the insurance side of injury cases in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Nagle moved to North Carolina and devoted his legal practice and career to the cause of accident victims. Mr. Nagle can be reached directly toll free at (800) 411-1583. Nagle & Associates, P.A. is a statewide North Carolina law practice with offices in Raleigh, N.C., Winston Salem, N.C., Wilmington, N.C, Asheville, N.C, and three other locations. For more information about the firm's auto and private passenger accident practice, visit www.naglefirm.com. For information about the law firm's commercial vehicle collision practice, visit www.carolinatrucklawyer.com.