Stage 1: Yes, you must remind them to wear a seat belt.

We all know that seat belts save lives. Yet, inexplicably, teens still drive and ride in cars without wearing their seatbelt.

Whatever it takes to convince your teen to wear their seatbelt, do it. If you need the staggering stats, we’ve listed them below.

If you need to make failing to wear their seatbelt a lose-your-driving-privleges offense, do it.

While we’re not big fans of the because-I-said-so school of parenting, we feel that when seat belts are concerned, you must have a take-no-prisoners attitude.

The video below illustrates why wearing a seat belt can save your life in the event of a crash.

Seat belt Statistics

These statistics are courtesy of the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

  • Seatbelts save more lives than airbags. In 2003, an estimated 2,488 lives were saved by air bags in comparison to an estimated 14,900 lives saved by seat belts. Air bags are designed to be used in conjunction with seatbelts, not instead of.
  • In 2003, 5,240 teens were killed in car crashes. 63% of those who were killed were not wearing their seatbelt. So, 3301 lives may have been saved by wearing a seatbelt.
  • When drinking, teens are less likely to wear their seatbelt. 74% of teens killed in an alcohol-related crash were unrestrained.
  • In 2003, the fatality rate in crashes for 16-20 year olds was more than double that of all over ages combined!
  • 34% of teens killed in crashes were completely or partially thrown from the car.
  • Wearing a seatbelt properly can reduce the risk of dying in a car crash by 45 percent.

OK, so it’s pretty clear that seat belts save lives. This message has been repeated ad infinitum, so it’s easy for parents to believe that this issue has been covered. And for most adults, the message has resulted in increased seatbelt use. But, for teens, the message still isn’t clear. Here are the facts to prove it:

  • Only 69% of 16-24 year olds use safety belts.
  • In an observational survey conducted at a high school parking lot, observers found that 46% of high school students were not buckled when riding with an adult. Wow, those parents are setting a bad example, right? Not necessarily. Half of those adults were buckled (and setting a good example), but by not enforcing that their child wear a seatbelt, they’re doing a serious disservice to their kid.

So, why aren’t teens wearing their seatbelt?

Strikingly, the percentage of teens who say that they “rarely or never wear safety belts” ranges from 8 to 27 percent, depending upon the State. The percentage is even higher for teens who admit not having worn their seat belt within the past week.

Here’s what teens are saying:

  • 47% believe that seat belts are “as likely to harm as to help”.
  • 27% feel that wear a safety belt makes them “worry more about being in an accident”.
  • 30% cite peer pressure.

Here are the theories from the experts:

  • Inexperience: Teens are less likely to have experienced an accident and do not have a sense of the immense forces.
  • Immaturity: You remember being 16…and fairly stupid. Teens engage in riskier behavior than adults.
  • Immortality: Teens simply do not believe they’ll ever get into a crash. Many believe this with as much fervor as they believe in God. So, why wear a seatbelt if you’re never going to get into a crash? It’s a tough argument, but you have the facts. Use them.
  • Raging hormones: While this shouldn’t excuse bad behavior, it can help explain it.
  • Thrill-seeking: Teens tend to seek out excitement. Not wearing a seatbelt may be a thrill to some.
  • Peer pressure: When confronted or chastised for wearing a seat belt, most teens will unbuckle.
  • Distractions: Studies shows that teens are more easily distracted while driving, especially when other teens are in the car. Teens are less likely to wear their seat belts when they have additional passengers in the car. So, when teens are most likely to have an accident (when distracted), they are also the least likely to be wearing their seatbelt. This is a deadly combo and should convince you to monitor your teen’s belt use like a hawk.

How do you convince teens to wear seat belts?

Set a proper example by always wearing your seatbelt and insisting that everyone who rides in the car with you do the same. Don’t start driving until everyone is buckled up.

Studies show that when an adult is buckled, a toddler is also restrained 86% of the time. When the parents don’t wear a belt, toddlers are only restrained 24% of the time. Clearly, you play a crucial role in teaching your kids to wear seat belts.

Continue on to The Pivot Method

All information and advice contained within this website is to be taken at your own risk. Nothing contained within this website should be misconstrued as professional driving instruction.