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So, I drive by this highway department information sign every day and a lot of times it bears this data. Note that this changes from time to time, but this is what was displayed yesterday

"_____ Highway Deaths In Missouri This Year. 54% Unbuckled."

I've never excelled at math, reasoning skills or "thinking" in general, but to me this doesn't exactly seem to be a ringing endorsement for seat belt use, telling me my chances of dying in an accident are pretty much equal whether I wear a seat belt or not.

Now, if it said something like "80% unbuckled," that would make more sense. I've never seen the "unbuckled" number even get up into the 60% range.

Along the same lines, I find myself thinking, "Well, with the 46% of people wearing seatbelts who died, they'd done about all they could safetywise with wearing their belts, but of the 54% who were unbuckled, how many of those were in crashes so bad they would have died even if they were buckled?"

What's your take on this? Am I just analyzing it wrong? Even though they are what they are, these numbers don't seem to be very "good" statistics to use to promote seat belt use.

For the record, I'm a seat-belt user.
 

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I rolled at car in England above 70mph and the roof was crushed into the driver's seat and if I had been wearing a seatbelt back in those days I wouldn't be here today!

The only reason I wear one today is the jump in ins. costs if you get fined without one. I will say after wearing one for decades now, I do fear nakid without one. Wierd eh!

For a head on crash they do work and work well to stop you from becoming the other guy's hood ornament. I was rearended badly early 2000 and I had servere bruising from the shoulder strap from the whiplash that ruined my neck. So, seat belt have their uses.
 

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First and foremost, I'm a Libertarian. As such, I'm against any law that mandates things like seat belts, helmets, and other things where the sort of personal choice affects only the chooser.

I do wear a seat belt as a matter of choice.

It's my belief that they prevent injuries in many sorts of crashes.

However, I don't believe they save lives in large numbers. In the sort of accident where fatalities occur the blunt force trauma is so great that death ensues irrespective of whether or not you're strapped to your chair.

To your point, planalp, crashes can be so bad that they are unsurvivable.

Back to reducing injures, though. I wear one for that reason. I believe that lap and shoulder restraints can keep you from slamming forward into the dash or from flying through the window. I wear mine for that reason. Plus the hundred and some dollar fine that the the nanny state of California has placed on those choosing not to wear one.

Yet, I believe that the one thing we could do to improve the safety of driving in America is to fix a very sharp 8 inch spike to the center of the steering wheel...

T
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
While I am a seat belt user, I really don't care whether anybody else does or not: it's none of my business, kind of like motorcyclists wearing or not wearing helmets.

The numbers, though. As displayed on the sign, don't they make it seem like wearing a seatbelt doesn't give you much of an edge when it comes to whether an accident is fatal or not?

54% of drivers in fatal accidents were not wearing their seatbelt. Therefore.....

46% of drivers in fatal accidents were wearing their seat belts but died, anyway.

To me, not a huge difference in the numbers to be used as an effective argument for folks to wear their seat belts.

I understand they're two very basic percentages that don't take into account a lot of other factors that really can't be quantified and displayed on a two-line highway sign, but to me, they simply say your chances of being killed while wearing a seat belt are roughly the same as your chances of being killed if you're not wearing one. I realize that's probably not true, but to me that's what the numbers on this sign say.
 

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No, I think you are right. The numbers, taken to a bottom line, indicate that seat belt usage has little effect on the death rate.

Figures don't lie...

T
 

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I'm in the personally do not care side as well until their hospital costs are soaked up by the rest of society, then I have a problem with people not wearing simple safety items such as helmets...seatbelts are a seperate issue in my head, helmets are totally different seeing as they directly protect our soft as a rotten mellon from damage. Just my way of seeing it....If I didn't in a round a bout way have to pay to fix these people then I say let Darwin rule...same result as with using 8" spike!
 

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Agreed

So, I drive by this highway department information sign every day and a lot of times it bears this data. Note that this changes from time to time, but this is what was displayed yesterday

"_____ Highway Deaths In Missouri This Year. 54% Unbuckled."

I've never excelled at math, reasoning skills or "thinking" in general, but to me this doesn't exactly seem to be a ringing endorsement for seat belt use, telling me my chances of dying in an accident are pretty much equal whether I wear a seat belt or not.

Now, if it said something like "80% unbuckled," that would make more sense. I've never seen the "unbuckled" number even get up into the 60% range.

Along the same lines, I find myself thinking, "Well, with the 46% of people wearing seatbelts who died, they'd done about all they could safetywise with wearing their belts, but of the 54% who were unbuckled, how many of those were in crashes so bad they would have died even if they were buckled?"

What's your take on this? Am I just analyzing it wrong? Even though they are what they are, these numbers don't seem to be very "good" statistics to use to promote seat belt use.

For the record, I'm a seat-belt user.
Yea, it's not good data. The only analysis of the subject that makes sense would be: of x number of [potentially] fatal crashes 46% of people were spared by wearing a seat belt. But how do you know if a crash was potentially fatal? You can't. So, as a politician, you have to make up reasonable sounding stats, that the non-thinking majority will read and go "OMG, that's totally scary! I need to wear a seat belt.", and never give it another thought.
 

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I'm not a statistician, but it seems like good data. It represents all the fatal crashes in that state. Everybody died, half with seat belts, half without. Therefore wearing seat belts does not seem to save lives.

T
 

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until their hospital costs are soaked up by the rest of society, !
I think that concept, used by those who want mandatory everything and rounded corners everywhere, is a false argument. I don't think it amounts to hill of beans.

Regardless, I would bear the cost if it means freedom of choice in matters that affect only the individual.

T
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm going to write to MoDot and let them know how I interpret that sign and see what they have to say about it. It seems like they could present some other data that might further their efforts to persuade people to wear seat belts if that's what they want them to do. Maybe other people don't take it the way I do. In the end, I highly doubt it affects anybody's decision-making at all: it's just there for looks.

Don't ask me why I care about this sign. I don't know. It just bugs me. I think it's because they spent all the money to install these things and there's never any kind of truly meaningful or relevant information displayed.

They're kind of a modern and expensive version of the old "Indian Weather Stick." "If This Sign Is White, There Is Snow On The Road And You Need To Slow Down."
 

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Weirdly, I agree with almost everything said here.

Personally, I probably mentioned this before. But...

When I was 16 I rolled my parent's van 30 or so times. It was in San Diego, just started raining. I saw a log in the road and hit it and overcompensated and flipped the van which then rode the center divider shooting sparks everywhere. There were six people in the van. Everyone got out (we were upside down). I couldn't reach my seatbelt. My best friend Pat doesn't remember, I assume he hit his head.

Next, while we were upside down, a Caddie going an estimated 75 hit us with no brakes. We slid further, but it also changed the angle and both Pat and I got out. The drivers side of the van was almost crushed and the metal was torn. It shaved one side of my head down past the skin to the blood. I compressed three vertebrae. I broke my collarbone. Got a concussion. No other injuries to speak of. My friend James cut his knee getting out. Pat needed new glasses. Everyone walked away. I was strapped to a board, but I went home that night.

Days later, I went and looked at the car with my friend Beth (also in the car). It was totally surreal. You could see about 18" of my bloody hair hanging from the jagged metal. (I had shortish hair, but they formed a 'chain'.) The car was DESTROYED. The window I climbed out of was smaller than a basketball. I'll still never understand how I got out. (I was a skinny mofo then, but still).

So, point being. I've been there, too. I have to think the fact that everyone was wearing a seatbelt made one of the worst nights of my life just terrible, instead of the night I died or one of my friends died. Neither of which I would have been able to come back from.

So, I KNOW that seatbelts sometimes TAKE lives. I would have gotten out before the caddy hit us...maybe...without a seatbelt. Or I would have made it out and been stumbling around a dark road and gotten flattened. All that said, I do not believe that all six of us would be alive and well today without seatbelts.

I also agree in free will. I choose to wear mine. Just like I choose to outfit myself in a full face helmet and armor when I ride.

My .02
 

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Air Bags?

I wonder if more people wouldn't wear seat belts if there weren't mandatory air bags in all new vehicles now?

I wonder if one law isn't the inadvertent impetus for the other?
 

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So, I drive by this highway department information sign every day and a lot of times it bears this data. Note that this changes from time to time, but this is what was displayed yesterday

"_____ Highway Deaths In Missouri This Year. 54% Unbuckled."
Percentages can get funny fast, which is why they're used in 98% of cases where swaying public opinion is important. ;-)

If 100% of people in that state wore seatbelts, the sign would read "_____ Highway Deaths In Missouri This Year. 0% Unbuckled." But I think we can agree we'd be wrong to conclude from that sign that wearing seatbelts was a hazardous practice.

From that example, we can tell that the percentage of people killed while belted in is not actually a useful number.

What we really want to know is the number of people whose lives were saved specifically because they were wearing seatbelts, and that's not on the sign. There's not enough information here to draw a conclusion about the efficacy of seatbelts one way or another.

(Note that I'm not saying the sign is inaccurate; I'm just saying the information isn't useful.)

If I were doing that sign, I'd say something like "You're X% more likely to die in an accident if you're not wearing your seatbelt", where X is an honest number.
 

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We up here get free healthcare and it's paid for by us getting taxed to death, so when costs go up so do our taxes. When you guys finally get free healthcare down there also you to will get the same treatment and then you may see it another way. If you have to inadvertantly pay for someone else's lifetime medical care, you may change what you think about a few things being forced on you if it means keeping those taxes down a bit.:nothingtoadd:
 

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Percentages can get funny fast, which is why they're used in 98% of cases where swaying public opinion is important. ;-)

If 100% of people in that state wore seatbelts, the sign would read "_____ Highway Deaths In Missouri This Year. 0% Unbuckled." But I think we can agree we'd be wrong to conclude from that sign that wearing seatbelts was a hazardous practice.

From that example, we can tell that the percentage of people killed while belted in is not actually a useful number.

What we really want to know is the number of people whose lives were saved specifically because they were wearing seatbelts, and that's not on the sign. There's not enough information here to draw a conclusion about the efficacy of seatbelts one way or another.

(Note that I'm not saying the sign is inaccurate; I'm just saying the information isn't useful.)

If I were doing that sign, I'd say something like "You're X% more likely to die in an accident if you're not wearing your seatbelt", where X is an honest number.
You are smarter than I am. ;)
 

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beej -

I hereby concede that your grasp of stats is superior to mine. I won't let that deter me from sticking my foot in my mouth, though.

Wouldn't we also need to know the number of people whose live were lost because they were wearing seat belts? By that I mean trapped in the car and burned, crushed, second hit, etc wherein it would have been reasonable to conclude that they could have gotten out had they not been strapped in.

I suppose we'd want to know how many people's lives were saved or lost because they weren't strapped in e.g. ejected from the car and hit by a bus or ejected from the car just before the car went over a cliff.

I still find useful information in "Of all the people that died in car accidents near planalp's house, half were belted in, half weren't". It's a simplistic stat, but doesn't it cover all the bases? Things get complex when we try to peel the onion to put more meaning into the data and characterize the data.

T
 

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There are too many factors involved to be able to credit or discredit seatbelts as far as saving lives. I believe seatbelts help prevent injury up to about 50mph. Above that speed it is a crapshoot. I have been in MANY wrecks during my stockcar racing days. I was never injured. Not even once. This included wrecks in excess of 100mph. The seatbelts and cage were designed for those impact speeds.
Modern passenger cars are designed for much lower impact speeds.The cars of today can easily achieve speeds FAR in excess of the speed the restraint system and passenger compartment were designed to. I would rather see the stats of how many people survived by traveling at a reasonable speed. Recently there was a driver in Edmonton arrested for traveling at 260km/h in a 100km/h zone. That's 160mph in a 60mph zone. Think seatbelts would have helped him or anyone he ran into?
Regards....justjeff
 

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I had a butterfly thought during dinner (Panda Express).

The data doesn't mean anything unless you know the percentage of the population that wear seatbelts.

Here the vast majority wear them. Let's say 95% wear them and that it's the same for the folks near planalp's house. So then, the 5% that don't wear them comprise half of the vehicle fatalities. Now the data means something.

Am I getting better, beej?

T
 

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... If you have to inadvertantly pay for someone else's lifetime medical care, you may change what you think about a few things being forced on you if it means keeping those taxes down a bit.:nothingtoadd:
It must be a lot of money to each tax payer to be such an issue.

How much extra does it cost you?

T
 
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