As Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Accidents Increase, Drivers Still Resist Using Seat Belts: Part 1 of 2

What is it about drivers in Massachusetts? Not only do we have the reputation of being among the least civilized drivers in the nation, apparently we are also among the least intelligent: Recent statistics indicate that Massachusetts is the state with the lowest percentage of seat belt use in the nation. According to a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA,) only about 67 percent of Massachusetts drivers are likely to buckle up. That lags behind even New Hampshire, the only state without a mandatory seat belt law, where the usage rate is 69 percent.

This is despite the fact that the Massachusetts seat belt law requires drivers to buckle up. So what is wrong with these drivers? After seven people were killed in three separate Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents over the recent July 4 weekend, (see my previous post,) in which almost all of those killed were not wearing their seat belts, the Boston Globe took to the streets to ask why facts like these don’t prompt more people don’t wear their seat belts. To hear it from the average driver, there are nearly as many reasons to avoid using seat belts as there are people who don’t use them. Even news of these recent fatalities, however, didn’t seem to faze people. It seems that, despite the enlightened reputation that Massachusetts carries, a lot of people don’t like being told what to do. Some people say they’re uncomfortable. “Uncomfortable”? Ever try to imagine how “comfortable” it is, having your face smashed into a windshield?

Tom Vanderbilt, author of “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do“, had some ideas to explain this insanity: “People engage in all kinds of magical thinking: That crashes happen to other people; that the air-bag will protect me (airbags in fact provide much less safety than belts); that I’m only going a short way or I’m on a quiet country road, so I don’t need one, etc.” Some drivers actually think that if you are driving 20 or 30 miles per hour for a short distance, you don’t need to wear a seat belt. Talk about foolish thinking. In my more than twenty years’ experience as a Boston car accident attorney, I can attest to the reality that most motor vehicle accidents occur at speeds below 40 MPH. And the injuries and deaths that can result would shock any one of these people who think otherwise. I call these people the “WOHATOME©'” crowd: “Won’t Happen To Me”. (Yes, that’s copyrighted. If “NIMBY” helped make Barney Frank famous, I can do the same.)

In my next post on this subject, I’ll address what might be done to improve this sorry situation.

The Law Offices of William D. Kickham And Associates represents injured victims of Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents and other personal injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident or motor vehicle accident, call us, and we can help you maximize financial recovery for the injuries you’ve suffered.