A new study found that seat belts may fail to properly protect seniors
in a San Diego crash. The results are concerning, particularly given that
the population of older Americans is expected to skyrocket in the next
More than 36 million drivers in the U.S. are currently aged 65 and older,
according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). By 2030, the number
is expected to exceed 60 million.
As California injury lawyers, we have seen firsthand that buckling up is
the most effective way to avoid serious injury in a motor vehicle crash.
In fact, seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by
according to the CDC. In total, seat belts saved 12,802 lives in 2014.
The issue for seniors is that seat belts have to fit properly in order
to do their job. “When seat belts were first designed four decades
ago, safety dummies tested in car crash simulations resembled the average-size
male driver of 40 years old and weighing approximately 170 pounds,”
said John Bolte, an associate professor of health and rehabilitation sciences
and director of Ohio State University’s Injury Biomechanics Research Center,
explained to Reuters Health.
As a result, the standard seat belt design can be less effective for older
drivers. In fact, it may even lead to fatal harm due to injuries sustained
along the path of the belt.
Bolte added: “If someone doesn’t adjust the height of their
shoulder belt, and if that belt is up around the neck, you will have severe
neck injuries. If it’s under your arm, it will lead to rib fractures.”
To help protect senior drivers, Bolte and his colleagues are working with
automakers to measure properties of the thorax and upper body in older
drivers to better predict how they are impacted in a crash. The next step
is to redesign seat belts to help avoid injuries. Of course, in the meantime,
it is still important for senior drivers and occupants to always buckle up.
If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury in a San Diego crash,
you may be entitled to compensation. To discuss your legal rights, contact
a California injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free