Fatalities occur in car crashes when occupants do not wear their seat belts

Recently a man decided to operate a vehicle after attending a birthday celebration where alcohol was being served. Several others got into his Honda Accord and after traveling northbound on Highway 101 near Sunnyvale, veered toward the off ramp. Unfortunately the driver lost control on the ramp and his car careened into a ditch. One of the passengers, a woman, was ejected from the car and pronounced dead at the scene. Police reported no one wore seat belts and the occupants had been intoxicated. The driver was charged with vehicle manslaughter.

In another Sunnyvale car accident, a pick-up truck and a sedan collided on a street. The pick-up truck overturned, partially ejecting the driver of the sedan who died. Police reported he was not wearing his seat belt.

In both the noted above, failing wear seat belts resulted in occupants being ejected from the vehicles causing their deaths. In the latest data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 95.5 percent of Californians wore seat belts in 2012, compared with the national average of 86 percent. It should come as no surprise that injuries and death can be avoided simply by wearing seat belts. In addition to its safety benefits, wearing seat belts is required by California law.

California’s Motor Vehicle Safety Act in the Vehicle Code requires car drivers and passengers in a private passenger vehicle to be secured in place with a seat belt. The law holds drivers responsible for ensuring they and their passengers are properly secured when everyone is age 16 or older. Other, more stringent rules apply to children’s safety in vehicles.

If riding in a taxi or limousine, only drivers are required by law to buckle up. However, seat belts must be provided for backseat passengers.

Violating the seat belt law is a citable offense. If a California police officer observes someone not wearing his or her seat belt, the officer can pull over the unbelted driver and issue a ticket.

If you or someone you love was injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident, the experienced attorneys of Bohn & Fletcher can help determine the conditions that led to the accident. When necessary we secure the assistance of accident reconstructionists and safety engineers to uncover the root causes, including whether failure to use a seat belt contributed to injuries or death. We can also determine whether seat belts when worn did not perform as expected, and if so, hold the manufacturer accountable in a product liability suit. Contact us today to discuss your situation.