Safety Belt Facts

Most everyone will be in at least one car crash in their lifetime. While a safety belt may not prevent an accident, wearing one during a crash can significantly increase your chances of surviving.

90% of Missouri college students ALWAYS wear a safety belt

When a vehicle is involved in a crash, passengers are still traveling at the vehicle’s original speed at the moment of impact. When the vehicle comes to a complete stop, drivers and passengers not wearing safety belts can slam into the steering wheel, windshield, other passengers in the vehicle, or other parts of the car’s interior. Safety belts definitely save lives –approximately 15,000 each year.

What is the correct way to wear a safety belt?

  1. The lap portion of the lap/shoulder belt should lay low and snug across the person’s pelvis/lap - it should never lie across the stomach. The shoulder belt should cross the chest and should never be placed behind the person’s back.

Know the Facts

buckle up
  1. Drivers are less likely to use safety belts when they have been drinking.
  2. Safety belts should always be worn, even when riding in vehicles equipped with airbags. Airbags are designed to work with safety belts, not alone.
  3. Crashes are the leading cause of death for young people; the younger the driver, the more likely the crash.
  4. Safety belts DOUBLE your chances of walking away from a crash alive and without a serious injury.
  5. Before you drive, wait until all your friends are buckled up.
  6. Almost anywhere you drive, it is illegal not to wear your safety belt.

Safety Belt Myths

I don't need a safety belt when driving at slow speeds or short trips.

  1. All driving can be dangerous. Fatalities have been recorded as slow as 12 miles per hour on non-belted occupants. Most crashes occur at speeds less than 40 miles per hour. As for the length of your trip making a difference – 75% of traffic accidents occur within 2.5 miles of your home.

Safety belts are uncomfortable and too confining.

  1. Safety belts are designed to allow movement around the vehicle, and they provide plenty of freedom without compromising safety. They are designed to activate immediately should a car come to a sudden halt. After regular use, safety belts are very comfortable.

If I wear a safety belt, I might get trapped in a burning car or caught in one underwater.

  1. Less than 1 out of 200 traffic-related incidents involve fire or water submersion. Even so, you're much more likely to be knocked out and rendered unconscious if you are not wearing a safety belt. Your chances of escape are better while wearing a safety belt.

I might be saved if I am thrown clear of a car in a collision.

  1. You are 25 times more likely to be killed in a crash when thrown from a vehicle. The force of an impact can throw you 150 feet – that’s 15 car lengths! Safety belts also prevent you from smashing your head into the windshield, which could cause serious spinal damage.

When I see a collision happening, I will brace myself.

  1. Crashes happen in the blink of an eye. It is impossible to prepare for crashes, and the forces generated are enormous.

I don't want to offend my passengers by telling them to buckle up.

  1. Most people willingly put on safety belts if someone only reminds them.

Crash Safety

Before you are involved in a crash, ensure that you have the proper information in your vehicle. You will need your driver’s license, proof of paid insurance, and your vehicle registration. You should also be aware of where your vehicle identification number is located in your car. Carry flares and a notepad and pen in your car. These will be helpful should a crash occur.

If you are involved in a crash, as a driver or a passenger, it is important to remember these important steps in order to stay safe after the crash:
  1. Before exiting your vehicle, watch for on-coming traffic.
  2. Check for injuries. If people are injured, that is your first priority. If no one is injured, move your vehicle out of the roadway to a safer place where you can exchange information with the drivers of other vehicles involved in the crash.
  3. Always call the police when an injury or fatality is involved. You should also call the police when the cars cannot be moved, when one of the drivers is intoxicated, when one of the drivers has no insurance, and when one of the drivers leaves the scene of the crash before exchanging information.
  4. If you cannot move your vehicle, protect the scene with flares or by raising your hood and move any persons to the side of the roadway.
  5. Exchange contact information, vehicle identification and license plate numbers, driver’s license information.
  6. Never leave the scene of a crash without exchanging information or calling the police, when appropriate. If you hit a vehicle that is parked, find the driver, or write your information in a note that you leave with the vehicle.


Speeding and Safety

Being aggressive and speeding behind the wheel not only makes your driving dangerous, but it jeopardizes the safety of others who share the road with you.

  1. Being in a rush to get to your destination can lead to accidents, traffic stops, and some serious frustration. At least 1,500 people are seriously injured or killed in aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) crashes.
  1. For every 10 mph you drive over 50 mph, you double your chances of death or serious injury or death. Last year exceeding the posted speed limit or driving at an unsafe speed was the most common error in fatal crashes.

How much time do you really save?

The dangers of speeding far outweigh the travel time saved. Choosing to exceed the speed limit or drive too fast for traffic, road, vehicle, or driver conditions can result in not just a speeding ticket, but serious injury or death.

Do the math: If the speed limit is 60 mph, and you’re driving 70 mph, after driving for one hour, you will have only gained 10 miles – or 9 minutes.

gas Aggressive driving can also lower your gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% around town. Each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an extra 25 cents per gallon for gas! Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.

You can be safe avoid aggressive driving in many ways: leave a little early and allow extra time to get to your destination, be patient and courteous while driving, and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you.


Alcohol-Impaired Driving

Most Missouri college students choose not to drink and drive. In fact, 87% use a designated driver when they are drinking.

However, those who do choose to drink and drive often experience negative consequences such as involvement in a crash or a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) violation.

Drinking slows reaction time, decreases awareness, and impairs judgment. College students are particularly at risk. Every day, 13 people between the ages of 16 and 24 die in an alcohol related crash. Alcohol was a contributing factor in over 22% of Missouri’s motor vehicle fatalities last year.

Designated Driver

cheersMake sure you arrange for a designated driver who will consume no alcohol if you plan to drink. If everyone in your party has been drinking, call a taxi or a sober friend to pick you up. Never ride home with the “least drunk” person in the group. If you are the designated driver, use the CHEERS to the Designated Driver program in your community to get free non-alcoholic beverages at participating bars and restaurants.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

BAC is the amount of alcohol in a person’s body. The higher a driver’s BAC, the more risk they have of being involved in a crash. A driver with a .10 BAC has a 48 times higher risk of being involved in a crash than someone who has not been drinking at all. A driver with a .15 BAC is 280 times more likely to be involved in a crash.

Consequences of a DWI

Not only will you have to face the local court system if you receive a DWI or are involved in a drinking and driving related crash on campus, but you could be held accountable through your campus conduct/judicial system as well. Most universities in Missouri have campus policies against drinking and driving.

Drug-Impaired Driving

Drug-impaired driving is illegal in all 50 states. Whether the drug is legally prescribed or illegal, driving while drug-impaired poses a threat to the driver, passengers, and other road users. Any form of impaired driving is illegal.

Most Missouri college students choose not to drive after consuming marijuana products. In fact, 65% of Missouri college students do not drive after consuming marijuana products. Driving high can lead to negative consequences. It has been proven that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the chemical that causes most of marijuana’s psychological effects—slows reaction times, impairs cognitive performance, and makes it more difficult for drivers to keep a steady position in their lane. If you feel different, you drive different.

In Missouri, 68% of college students do not drive after using prescription drugs. If you are taking a new prescription drug or a higher dose of a current prescription drug, do not drive until you know what effect it has on your judgement, coordination, and reaction time. Any effect could impair your driving ability.


Drowsy driving is a dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue. Drowsiness makes drivers less attentive to the road, slows reaction time, and affects a driver’s ability to make good decisions. Learn more at

Learn the warning signs of drowsy driving:
  1. Yawning or blinking frequently
  2. Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven
  3. Missing your exit
  4. Drifting from your lane
  5. Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road
Prevent Drowsy Driving:
  1. Do not get behind the wheel if you are tired
  2. Get enough sleep!
  3. Do not take medications that may make you sleepy before driving
An estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers report having fallen asleep while driving in the past 30 days.
63% of Missouri college students report that they do not drive while drowsy.
(MACHB 2017, N=10,781)


With the safety technology in cars today, it's easy to forget that driving in poor weather conditions can be dangerous. The next time you head out in bad weather, keep these tips in mind:

  1. AWD or 4WD doesn't make you invincible. Unless you have dedicated winter or snow tires for you car, you have the same braking ability as everybody else: not much. So slow down, be smooth, and leave plenty of room between you and other cars. Even with winter tires, it's a good idea to keep your distance.
  2. Is it raining? Is it foggy? Is it snowing? If any of those are true, turn on your headlights. Your headlights may not help you see in these conditions, but they will help other people see you. If your car has an automatic setting for the lights, consider using that.
  3. In foggy weather, do not use your brights. All that will do is cause the water droplets to reflect light back in your eyes. Keep you low beams on, and if equipped, turn on your fog lights.
  4. If you're planning a trip during bad weather, check the weather forecast before departing. You don't want to get stuck when they close I-70 across Kansas.
  5. If visibility drops significantly, turn on your hazard lights. It's easier for other traffic to see these flashing lights than your tail lights.


Be Prepared

Along with the spare tire and associated tools, It's a good idea to keep the following items in the trunk of your car:

  1. Jumper cables. Don't know how to use them? Click here.
  2. A small first aid kit.
  3. If your car has locking wheel nuts, keep the key somewhere obvious, like next to the jack.
  4. A poncho.
  5. Durning the winter time, a tow strap can come in handy, should you overestimate your driving skills or need to pull someone free.

There is usually room to stash these items under the trunk floor, around the spare tire.

If you plan on a long-distance trip through isolated areas or will be doing extended driving in inclement weather, pack an extra jacket and gloves. It's not a bad idea to toss a phone charger, a couple bottles of water, and some granola bars in the car as well, just in case you get stranded.

How to check your tire pressure

Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3% for every 1 PSI drop in pressure of all four tires.*

So, what does 0.3% really mean? If you let your pressure drop by even a few PSI (like what can happen naturally during cold weather), you could be spending quite a bit more at the pump. An extra dollar here and there might not sound like much, but if you drive 12,000 miles a year, that's almost $120 down the drain.

PSI MPG Gallons/100 miles Cost/100 miles ($3/gallon)
Normal 30 3.33 $9.99
-1 29.1 3.43 $10.29
-2 28.2 3.54 $10.62
-3 27.3 3.66 $10.98

Checking your tire pressure is quick, easy, and can save you money. Incorrectly inflated tires are also a safety hazard, so follow these quick steps to make sure that you're in good shape:

    tire pressure
  1. Locate a tire pressure gauge. If you don't have one, they can be as inexpensive as a few dollars and areavailable at a variety of stores.
  2. Locate the recommended tire pressures for your car (in PSI, or pounds per square inch). These are in the manual and usually on the driver or passenger door jamb. It will look something like this the photo on the right. Note: the "Max PSI" listed on your tire sidewall is more than likely not the recommended pressure for your car.
  3. Unscrew the valve stem and press the end of the gauge on the exposed valve.
  4. Compare the reading to the recommended pressure and adjust as necessary. An easy way to add air is to use an air compressor at a gas station.
  5. Replace the valve stem.
  6. Do this monthly, or whenever your car alerts you to a low tire.
  7. Don't forget to occasionally check your spare tire pressure! It's not going to do much good it it's flat too... speaking of, here's information about how to change a flat tire.

*Information taken from

Other maintenance items

Here are some simple things to check to keep your car in good shape:

  1. Top off your windshield washer fluid. This is especially important during the winter months. Refer to your manual for details, but there is usually a bottle with blue washer fluid under the hood. Be sure to not confuse this with engine coolant!
  2. Check the oil. Cars today can go several thousand miles between oil changes, so it's a good idea to check the level every so often. Refer to your manual for specifics on your car, but generally speaking, pop the hood and remove the dipstick (typically with a red or orange handle) and make sure the oil level is between the two marks. Do this on a level surface. Add oil as necessary. Again, refer to your manual for more details.
  3. Check your tire tread depth. Bald tires contribute to all kinds of safety problems, from hyrdoplaning in wet weather to poor winter traction. Use the penny test to make sure you're in good shape. It's easy: stick a penny in your tread, and if you can see the top of Abe's head, it's probably time for new tires. You can also look for the horizontal wear bars that are built in to the tire.