If you are one of the estimated 50% of Massachusetts drivers who does not wear a seat belt, these facts are for you. Over 41,000 people were killed in 2000 in car accidents. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury death in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes create $3.6 billion annually in health care and other related costs in Massachusetts.
Seat belts, combined with airbags, are the most effective safety devices in vehicles today, estimated to save 9,500 lives each year. Safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45% and the risk of serious injury by 50 percent, according to the NHTSA. Child safety seats, used correctly, reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers.
Important Safety Tips:
- Adults should wear a seat belt at all times.
- Children model your behavior; adults who don't buckle up send children the message that it is all right not to wear a seat belt. Almost ninety percent of children are buckled when the car's adults wear seat belts. The percentage drops to 76% when adults are not wearing a seat belt.
- Infants age one and younger, or weighing less than 20 pounds, should ride in rear facing child safety seats in the back seat.
- Children weighing 20 to 40 pounds should ride in a booster seat, facing forward in the back seat.
- All children from 40 to 80 pounds and less than 4'9" tall should be properly restrained in a booster seat in the back seat. Children these sizes are usually age four to eight.
Many of GIC health plans offer additional information on car seat safety on their web site. Fallon Community Health Plan offers a one-hour Child Passenger Safety Class for expectant parents at various locations throughout their service area. Participants learn about the Massachusetts seatbelt and safety seat law and how to correctly install and use a child safety seat. At the completion of the class, participants receive a Century infant/toddler seat. Class costs are: FCHP members - $45 and Non-Fallon members - $60. Contact Fallon for additional details: 1-800-891-2300 or e-mail.
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.