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Why Teens DON’T Wear Seat Belts – and What to Do About It

Brandon Evans   |  September 21, 2015   |  

Teens are less inclined to wear seat belts when driving or riding in a car than people over the age of 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, a 2013 survey of high school students found that only 55 percent said they wore a seat belt every time they got in a motor vehicle.

This is despite the fact that teens between the ages of 16 and 19 face a higher risk of sustaining serious or fatal injury in a vehicle-related accident than any other age group. Teen drivers are also three times as likely to be involved in a fatal collision. Approximately 2,650 U.S. teens lost their lives and another 292,000 sustained injuries requiring emergency medical treatment as a result of motor vehicle accidents in one recent year. This breaks down to one 16-19 year old being killed and 800 being injured in vehicle-related collisions every single day.

Reasons Your Teen May Decide Not to Wear a Seat Belt

Although seat belts have been proven to save lives in car and other vehicle-related accidents, the reasons your teen may give as to why he or she decides not to wear a seat belt may astound you. Safe Kids Worldwide reports the top three reasons teens give for not using seat belts on every ride are:

  • Forgot or it just wasn’t a habit
  • Not planning to drive very far
  • Discomfort.

Other reasons teens have given for not wearing seat belts include:

  • It isn’t cool to wear a seat belt
  • Their friends don’t do it
  • Peer pressure
  • Not enough seat belts in the vehicle
  • Easier to escape or get out in an emergency.

How to Get Your Teen to Wear a Seat Belt

As a parent you want to do whatever you can to help keep your teen safe, particularly when he or she reaches driving age or begins going out with other teen drivers. So how can you get your teen to wear a seat belt?

The first step is to set a good example. If you yourself buckle in and require your passengers do the same every time you get behind the wheel, your child will develop the same habit.

Education is also key when it comes to getting teens to wear seat belts. Talk to your teen about the fact that Safe Kids Worldwide states seat belts can reduce the risk of fatality by up to 45 percent for front seat passengers. Enroll him or her in teen driving classes to learn basic safety measures and defensive driving skills that could significantly reduce the chances of injury or death.

Sit down with your teen and come up with an exact set of rules and guidelines he or she must follow or face losing driving privileges. Encourage your kids to speak up if they notice other teens who aren’t driving safely and remind them it is never cool to put other people’s lives at risk.

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