Seat belt usage in Vermont, according to the most recent numbers, runs at 87%. This is about a twenty point improvement over the last seven years or so. So what would happen if Vermonters were to increase their seat belt usage to 90%? The Vermont Department of Public Safety believes that it would save at least one life every year. Backing this up is another number: as of 2006, the latest data available, over 50% of fatal crashes in Vermont involved unrestrained drivers or passengers.
What does all this mean. Yes, air bags are great, but they do not replace seat belts. The combination of seat belts and air bags is the best combination to stay alive in a crash.
While the incentive to stay alive should be enough cause for most people to use their seat belts, there is another, reason: Vermont law requires it. Everyone in a motor vehicle must wear a seat belt or sit in a car seat or a booster seat.
Children under one year old and those weighing less than 20 pounds must ride in a rear-facing car seat. Children over one year old and weighing more than 20 pounds should ride in a federally approved seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old. Once a child reaches the age of eight, they should ride in a properly fitted seat belt.
As it relates to children, there is an important fact to remember. A very high percentage of children’s seat are not properly fitted. However, Vermont law enforcement agencies routinely hold clinics where, at no charge, they will check out child car seat installations and help owners correctly fit their car seat for the car. As well, this Child Safety Seat Inspection Station Locator can help you find an inspection stations near you.