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The law stipulates that all vehicles must be fitted with safety belts which must be fastened by both the passengers and drivers while traveling. Both developed and developing countries have embraced this legislation with the aim of reducing road accidents and carnage. This law has ignited support and rejection because some people do not find it useful. The safety belts laws differ from one place to another. For example, some states do not require over 18 year old passengers in the rear seats to fasten the belts.
There has been a remarkable positive effect after the seatbelt law was implemented. Cases of injuries have reduced with significant figures. According to Child Trends Data Bank Organization, death rates have reduced from 30 to 50 %, which was reflected better in the year 2007 when 15, 147 passengers escaped death due to the use of safety belts, in United States. It was also estimated that death rates among drivers who wore the lap-shoulder safety belts reduced by 48% (Child Trends Data Bank Organization 7).
However, as much as there are positive effects brought about by this law, some scholars have carried out studies which have proved otherwise. Some of the countries which have imposed this law have not fully benefited from it; in fact they are worse off than some of the countries which do not have these regulations in place. It has also observed that dictating people to wear safety belts amounts to undermining an individual's freedom. It should be upon one's prerogative to fasten a belt or not.
It has also been discovered that safety belts can cause health problems especially to the elderly. There have been cases of cardiac arrests, injuries in the lungs and other parts of the body. Head and neck injuries are more likely to occur to a passenger who is wearing a seatbelt when a speeding vehicle suddenly brakes. The passenger's head is pushed forward while the rest of the body remains on the seat. This would really hurt if the head is hit by an object that is in front.
Another conclusion made by studies is that mandatory safety belts encourage careless driving. Drivers often reason that since there are seat belts to prevent death, it is always safe regardless of how they drive. Most vehicles have a comprehensive insurance cover which compensates both the vehicle and the passengers in case of accidents. This is another reason which encourages careless driving.
Considering both the positive and negative effects of seat belt laws, it would be preferable to continue the implementation of these laws because the sole aim is to protect the lives of people traveling using vehicles. Whether they are adults or not, they would still be at a risk of getting hurt or dying, if they ignore fastening safety belts.
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