Car wrecks remain the leading cause of death for individuals aged five to thirty-four years of age. Car accidents also account for 2.3 million non-fatal injuries each year, which is approximately 15% of all non-fatal injuries treated in emergency rooms. There has been some improvement, however, in the number of non-fatal injuries sustained in car accidents. According to the CDC, between 2001 and 2009, there has been a 15.6% reduction in the rate of non-fatal injuries sustained in automobile accidents. This means there were approximately 231,000 less injuries in 2009 then there were in 2001. That is certainly good news.
The primary reason for the decline in non-fatal injuries: seatbelts. From 2002 to 2008, there was a self reported increase in seatbelt use of approximately 5%. To no one’s surprise, states with stronger seatbelt laws had higher rates of seatbelt use. This is important because if all states had stronger seat belt laws, nearly 450 additional lives would have been saved, 12,000 non-fatal injuries would have been prevented, and $1.6 billion in societal costs would have been saved in 2009 alone. This is just one example how smart and simple safety policies can make a big difference.