Memorial Day and summer break in Georgia are just around the corner! As the busy travel period approaches, let’s take a moment to reflect on seat belt safety, especially when children and tweens (ages 8 to 14) are in the car. Seatbelts are important in keeping vehicle passengers safe and, fortunately, national seatbelt use in 2023 was at 91.9%. However, those who do not use seatbelts are putting themselves at immense risk.

In 2022, approximately 22,420 vehicle occupants were killed in crashes. Of that number, 50% were unrestrained. Clicking in your seatbelt is a step toward roadway safety that can be done in a matter of seconds and potentially save your life. Anyone riding in a car must remember best practices for seatbelt safety. Proper seatbelt placement involves placing the shoulder buckle across the middle chest and away from the neck. The lap belt should be across the hips, not the stomach. Additionally, while airbags can also help save lives in a crash, they can cause further injury if not paired with correct seatbelt use.

Women who are pregnant should take special care to ensure they are safely buckled in motor vehicles.

Adults must take extra precautions to ensure children and tweens are buckled in properly when riding in a vehicle. Remember, these young passengers are more likely to prioritize their seatbelt when they see good practices from adults in the car. Occasionally, children and tweens may choose to not wear their seatbelts for a variety of reasons, but namely because they perceive a trip to be a short distance at a slower speed, such as through a neighborhood. Adults should remind them that most accidents happen close to home and under speeds of 40 miles per hour.

Children and tweens may also forget their seatbelts due to distractions from electronic devices or toys. Regardless, always check that seatbelts are buckled, and have a conversation about safety with young passengers if they seem to be resistant to wearing a seatbelt. Remember, never move the car until all seatbelts are fastened, even if it means delaying the journey.

Most of us encounter seatbelts daily, and their impact on public safety must not be overlooked. Keep these tips and facts in mind to ensure proper seatbelt usage for a fun and safe summer.