Avoidable Tragedy – Seatbelts Save Lives

In yet another alcohol fueled collision on Seattle streets, a young woman died when she was ejected from the backseat of a vehicle that crashed into a side barrier.  She was not wearing a seatbelt. The police suspect the driver was impaired by alcohol.  The driver and five other passengers survived the collision.Read Source.

According to the National Safety Council website, “Seat belts are the single most effective traffic safety device for preventing death and injury…… [w]earing a seat belt can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent.”  Unfortunately, “seat belt use remains lowest among young drivers.”Read Source.

Be a defensive passenger

As legislative wheels grind to create new measures to punish or prevent drunk driving, we all can take measures to protect ourselves:

  1. Refuse to get into a car if you suspect the driver is chemically impaired
  2. Always wear a seatbelt
  3. Spread the word about seatbelts, especially to young people

Who is legally responsible for unbuckled passengers?

Responsibility for ensuring that passengers are buckled depends on the age of the passenger.  Under Washington State laws, drivers are responsible for ensuring that passengers younger than 16 are buckled.  A driver can be cited for having an unbuckled child in the car.  Adult passengers are responsible for buckling themselves and may be individually cited for failure to buckle.Read Source.

Although seatbelts decrease the risk of injury, a negligent driver is not excused from responsibility just because the injured person was not wearing a seatbelt.  Any other rule would require the jury to speculate what the injuries would have been had the person been wearing a seatbelt.   This would allow negligent and impaired drivers to escape full liability for their actions, which in turn, would make our roads less safe.    Accountability for actions that harm others is an important societal goal.

The attorneys of Dixon & Cannon, Ltd are experienced auto collision attorneys and have represented clients who have suffered life altering injuries as a result of being unbuckled passengers in vehicles driven by drunk drivers.  If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto collision, call Dixon & Cannon, Ltd to learn how we can help.

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