The Maryland Highway Safety Office (MHSO) hopes its redesigned rollover simulator will help get the state one step closer to 100% seat belt use – by reminding drivers and passengers of the devastating consequences that can result from not wearing one.
More than 90% of Marylanders buckle up, but those who don’t put their lives at risk, MHSO officials said. The safety office is a division of the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA).
Over the past five years, failure to wear a seatbelt has been a contributing factor in about one of every five motor vehicle fatalities on Maryland roadways. Last year, 109 motor vehicle occupants killed in crashes in Maryland were not wearing a seat belt.
MDOT MVA uses the simulator – a refurbished 1998 Ford Ranger pickup – as a community educational tool to demonstrate the dramatic difference a properly buckled seat belt can make in a rollover crash. These crashes can result in severe head and neck, chest and extremity injuries, including severed limbs and broken bones.
“It’s important to buckle up every seat, every ride to ensure every person is safe and secure inside a vehicle,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “Seat belts, when worn consistently and properly, have been proven to be the first and best defense in the event of a crash.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a driver is nearly 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle when unbuckled. Occupants who are ejected are more than 90 times more likely to be killed.
MHSO recently released a video to show three scenarios in a rollover crash. A mannequin was used to represent a driver who was properly buckled, improperly buckled (with the seat belt underneath the arm) and unbuckled.
The outcomes in the various scenarios can represent a potential difference between life and death.
“The visual demonstration that the rollover simulator provides is crucial for teaching motorists and passengers the importance of buckling up correctly,” said Dr. Tim Kerns, MHSO director. “In order to achieve the goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on Maryland roadways, it begins with every motorist and passenger buckling up before driving.”
While the video only shows the driver, the consequences of not buckling up also apply to passengers. Unbuckled passengers can become projectiles in a crash, injuring themselves and others in a vehicle – even those who are properly buckled.
Drivers can play a significant role in ensuring everyone in a vehicle buckles up. In vehicles where the driver was buckled, 93% of passengers were as well. Conversely, in vehicles with unbuckled drivers, only 40% of passengers were buckled up.
In Maryland, seat belt laws make it a primary offense for drivers and front-seat passengers to go unbuckled, and a secondary offense for rear seat passengers. A driver can receive an $83 ticket for each passenger older than 16 not wearing a seat belt. Child restraint laws require that children 7 and under be buckled in a car or booster seat.
Buckle Up. Every Seat. Every Ride.
For more information on MDOT, go to: mdot.maryland.gov.
For more information on MDOT MVA, go to: mva.maryland.gov.
For more information on MHSO, go to: zerodeathsmd.gov.