Seatbelts are something you don’t appreciate until you need them. Hopefully you buckle up without even thinking about it whenever you get into a vehicle. Some of us may have cheated death or were able to suffer only minor harm in accidents that, without seatbelts, may have been fatal or left us suffering lifelong, serious disabilities.

One such person is 23 years old. The car he was driving struck a utility pole in South Brunswick in February. His car split in two and the driver was transported to a hospital afterwards but was released about five hours later, according to The reason for his good health may be that he was buckled in at the time of the accident.

Township police report the driver became distracted, the car ran off the road and struck the pole. The force of the collision was so strong that wires from the pole ended up in a field about 300 yards away and started a fire. The driver had to be cut out of his vehicle; he was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where he was treated and released.

“Clearly if you see the pictures and video from the scene, it is a miracle this young man survived, let alone practically walked away,” Police Chief Raymond Hayducka was quoted as saying. “Seat belts do save lives and this crash demonstrates it.

Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children and young adults ages 5 to 24 and the second most common cause of death for adults 25 and older as well as for toddlers, reports the National Safety Council (NSC). Motor vehicle crashes also are the leading cause of on-the-job fatalities.

If worn properly, seat belts are the most effective protection against injury in a crash, according to the NSC. The good news is that it’s estimated that more than 90% of Americans wear seat belts; unfortunately, those who don’t are vulnerable to injuries in an accident. More than half of vehicle occupants killed in 2012 accidents were not wearing a seat belt.

Those who are 16 to 24 years old are much less likely to use seat belts. They also have a greater risk of a crash due to driver inexperience and impaired driving. This adds up to high rates of accident-related injuries and deaths for this age group. In 2014, 2,270 teens in the United States aged 16 to 19 were killed and 221,313 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most vehicles are equipped with air bags, and they can reduce injuries in crashes, but they’re designed to be used with seat belts, not instead of them. Due to the force of air bags when they deploy in a crash, children should ride in the back seat of a vehicle, away from air bags, until they are at least 13 years old.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident in New Jersey, schedule a free consultation with our office by calling us at (973) 358-6134 or by using our online quick connect form. Contact us so you can learn about your legal rights and take action to protect your ability to seek compensation.