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Study provides more evidence of seat belt safety benefits

New Jersey has a seat belt law that applies to drivers and both front and rear seat passengers. Because it is a primary law, police officers in the Garden State can pull vehicles over and ticket their occupants for violating it. Advocacy groups have urged lawmakers in other states to enact similar legislation, and these calls are backed up by a growing body of evidence about the road safety benefits of seat belt use. The results of another study dealing with this issue have been published online by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Researchers studied information about car accidents that occurred between 2010 and 2015 to determine how much protection seat belts provide against liver injuries. The research is valuable because liver injuries are extremely common in motor vehicle accidents and often fatal. The results of the study reveal that properly restrained vehicle occupants are far less likely to suffer a severe liver injury.

The research team found that those who do suffer such an injury are almost twice as likely to die as drivers or passengers who suffer only moderate or minor liver injuries, and they also discovered that airbags alone provide vehicle occupants with little protection. Encouraging more motorists to fasten their seat belts is seen as a simple and effective way to reduce the severity of traffic accidents that claim tens of thousands of lives each year and drain almost a trillion dollars from the healthcare segment of the economy.

Accident victims in New Jersey who were not wearing their seat belts when they suffered harm are sometimes reluctant to pursue civil remedies. However, experienced personal injury attorneys could explain that the state's comparative negligence law allows accident victims to seek compensation as long as their degree of blame is not greater than the party they are suing.

Source: The National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Seat Belt Laws", accessed on May 13, 2018

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