Modern vehicles have a variety of safety features to protect you when you drive. For example, since 1968, all cars made in the United States must have seatbelts. In New York, every person in the front of a vehicle must wear a seatbelt to comply with state law. Everyone under the age of 16 in the backseat also must wear a seatbelt while the car is in motion.
Put simply, seatbelts save lives. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of motorists who died in automobile collisions in 2016 were not wearing their seatbelts. While you should always buckle up for trips of any length, you should also realize that seatbelts may cause injuries.
Bruising is the most common type of seatbelt-related injury during an automobile collision. While a bruise to your pelvis or shoulder may be unsightly, it can also lead to serious complications. The Mayo Clinic advises watching for certain warning signs to know whether you need follow-up or emergency care.
2. Broken bones
When you buckle your seatbelt, you pull the restraint across your shoulder, ribcage, spine and collarbone. During even minor accidents, you may break bones that protect vital organs or facilitate everyday activities. Whether you suffer a compound fracture or just a hairline one, the pain of a broken bone can be agonizing.
3. Soft-tissue injuries
You have several muscles, ligaments and connective tissues in your chest and torso. While a seatbelt keeps you in place during an automobile crash, it may also injure your muscular system. Unfortunately, though, soft-tissue pain does not always appear immediately. On the contrary, you may not realize you have a muscular injury until days after your car accident.
4. Internal damage
In rare cases, seatbelts can contribute to internal injuries during a car crash. For example, the force of an accident may cause your seatbelt to tear a major artery. Alternatively, you may develop internal bleeding or puncture a lung. As you may suspect, internal damage can be life-threatening.
Regardless of whether you drive a great distance or just run to the store, you should always wear your seatbelt. After all, seatbelts save lives. Still, in an automobile accident, you may sustain some type of seatbelt-related injury that requires medical treatment or extensive rehabilitation.