Seatbelts in a Collision

From a physics point of view, what would happen if you or your passengers were not wearing a seat belt and the car was brought to a sudden and abrupt halt by a collision with a big tree?


  • Everyone inside the vehicle will move in the direction of impact until they are stopped by their seat belts or the inside surface of the vehicle.
  • Organs get jarred. Solid organs like the spleen and the liver fracture and bleed. Hollow organs like the stomach rupture. Vessels like the aorta tear. Lungs rupture or become punctured.
  • Seat belts protect the driver and passengers from the powerful forward moving forces and the three crashes that occur in any collision.

Know the Odds of Passenger Restraints…

An estimated 9% of Texans are not buckling up, and nearly 1,000 Texans killed in car crashes were known to not be properly restrained in 2014 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).


  • Let’s watch this 40-second video of the impact a seat belt can make.

    • Now imagine four close friends or family members in your car with you. Drivers and passengers who buckle up are 45% less likely to die and 50% less likely to be moderately injured in a motor vehicle crash. Do you want to play the odds with your family or friends? (Didn’t think so!)
    • How many of you own or take frequent rides in a pickup truck? Seat belt use is the lowest for pickup trucks among all types of vehicles. In fatal crashes, pickups roll over almost twice as often as passenger cars!

    Conclusion: Seat belts—including child safety seats—are the least expensive and most effective way to save lives and reduce the severity of injuries. Do EVERYTHING you can, and buckle up!


Does Everyone Have to Wear a Seat Belt?

  • Have you ever been in the car for a short time (ex: backing out of the driveway, going a few blocks to the store) where you don’t buckle up?
  • Before you drive away, do you turn around to make sure everyone in your car has a seat belt on?
  • If you are riding in a friend’s car or taxi cab, do you bother to buckle up? Do you have to?

Watch this video:

Texas law states that all passengers in a vehicle must be secured by a seat belt. Texas law enforcement officials will ticket anyone who isn’t wearing a seat belt, including adult passengers in the back seat and drivers with children improperly secured.


Backing Up Can Bust You Up

Driving a car backwards is a practiced skill!

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2008 to 2011, an average of 41% of non-occupant traffic injuries were caused by a car backing up into someone.
  • The use of safe vehicle backing tips by employers and employees can help prevent accidents while on the job.

What do you do when backing up, to make sure you don’t hit something?

How do you improve your skill at backing up a vehicle?

Here are some tips!


Regain Control of Your Car

  • Have you ever had a close call, a time when your vehicle was out of control?
  • What did you do to regain control?

Here are some techniques for regaining control of your vehicle in different situations.

  1. What to do in inclement weather. In these conditions the best thing you can do is slow down. This may reduce the chance of losing control of the car.
  2. What to do if you lose control. If loss of control occurs due to a flat tire, a patch of wet leaves, gravel roads, oil, snow and ice or some other hazard: remain calm no matter what. Panicking won’t help.
  • Look where you WANT to go, and point the wheels in that direction.
  • Don’t slam on the brakes, but ease up on the gas pedal. If the car has anti-lock brakes, apply firm pressure to slow the vehicle instead of pumping the brake pedal.
  • To avoid skids, brake before a curve, not during it.
  • Try to brake while in a straight line and coast through the curve. If a gas pedal sticks, shift to neutral and apply the brakes.

What You Need to Know About Intersections

There are so many different types of intersections, it can be hard to remember the rules for using them!

Here’s a list of tips for each type.

  • Two-Way Intersection: Check both ways when arriving at the intersection. Pedestrians, emergency vehicles or impaired drivers may be traveling the wrong way.
  • T-Intersection: The major road, or the top of the “T” of the intersection, has right-of-way generally, but it is important to watch for any vehicles as you enter traffic.
  • Y-Intersection: When three roads meet, you may have a lot of traffic crossing lanes and merging. Slow down, scan and give right-of-way to those who are not crossing lanes of traffic.
  • Four-Way Intersection without signals (or when signals aren’t working): The first driver who arrives gets to go first. If you “tie” with someone, it is safest to yield to the driver on your right. Be careful—not everyone follows these guidelines.
  • Roundabouts: Roundabouts occur when multiple streets meet and, instead of crossing, form a circular lane of traffic. You should slow down, watch for new cars entering the flow of traffic and know where you are going before entering the roundabout. Those already in the roundabout have the right-of-way. Do not stop or pass other vehicles. Use signals when entering or exiting. And if you miss your turn, go around the circle and try again.

Out of the Way of Trains

One modern train engineer recently stated, “There are two types of train engineers—those who have hit someone on the tracks—and those who will.”

Why would he say that? Think about it for a moment, and put yourself in his place.

Here’s why:

  • Train engineers know the extreme distance it takes to bring a hulking moving train to a complete stop.
  • A train going 50 miles per hour needs a mile and a half to stop.
  • With that knowledge, engineers know they cannot do anything to prevent a crash in many cases.
  • In a collision with a train, you are 40 times more likely to be killed than if you were in a collision with another car.

Remember these tips while driving near railroad crossings:

  • Reduce speed when approaching crossings and look both ways.
  • Turn down your stereo and listen for a train.
  • If red lights are flashing or if crossing arms have been lowered, stop.
  • Never stop on the tracks.
  • Be sure ALL tracks are clear before crossing—there may be more than one set of tracks.

Big Truck Basics

If you like to see store shelves full of all the things you need, then you should be grateful for all of the big trucks on the road who deliver all the stuff we like to have!

  • Do you know how to drive safely around large trucks?
  • What do you do now when you see a large truck in the next lane, in front of you, or behind you?

Observe the following safety tips for driving near large trucks.

  • Pass Safely – Never cut in front of a truck. After you pass, make sure the entire truck appears in your rearview mirror before returning to the lane. Always leave at least four car lengths between the back of your car and the front of any large truck you pass.
  • Stay out of the “No Zone” – “No Zones” are the danger areas around large trucks in which crashes are more likely to occur. Because of a truck’s size, there are four large blind spots where cars disappear from the driver’s view.
  • Avoid Tailgating -A severe collision can result when a car hits the rear end of a truck. Large trucks and the trailers they pull do not have impact-absorbing bumpers. Additionally, the truck’s metal bumpers may not align with those of your car.
  • Leave 20-25 car lengths between your vehicle and a truck to provide the space needed to stop safely during an emergency or traffic slow down.
  • Stay Away from the Truck Driver’s Blind Spots – Following a truck too closely obscures your view of the road in front of you. If you can’t see the driver in the truck’s side mirror, the driver can’t see you or your vehicle.

Emergency Vehicles

Emergency personnel risk their lives every day to help people in a time of need. Drivers need to pay attention and respond properly when emergency vehicles approach.

  • Describe what you currently do when this happens to you.

What is the proper protocol when you are driving and an emergency vehicle is approaching?


  • FIRST, never drive with earphones on or music playing too loudly. You need to be able to hear emergency vehicles approach and also hear audio cues from other vehicles.
  • If you see emergency lights or hear a siren, analyze if it’s safer to pull over or stay where you are.
  • If the emergency vehicle is behind or ahead—and the way is clear—pull over as far as you can to the right side of the road and come to a stop. Use your turn signal to indicate where you’re moving, and keep a foot on the brake to let emergency vehicle drivers know you have stopped.
  • If you are in an intersection when the emergency vehicle approaches, wait to see if the emergency vehicle needs to turn at the intersection. If the vehicle is not turning, continue through intersection and then pull over as soon as you can when it is safe to do so. Use your turn signal to indicate where you’re moving, and keep a foot on the brake to let emergency vehicle drivers know you have stopped.
  • On a highway where cars are going 55-70 miles an hour, get as far over as possible and slow down to the minimum speed.

Driving Under the Influence … It’s Not Just Alcohol

Is taking a prescription or over-the-counter medication as dangerous as drinking alcohol combined with driving?

  • Safe driving requires precise skills, clear judgment, concentration, and ability to react to what happens on the road.
  • Drugs affect all of these skills, and not just illegal drugs. Prescription drugs and even over the counter medicines can affect your driving skills if you don’t follow instructions or your doctor’s advice.
  • Taking drugs of any kind and then driving puts you at greater risk of injuring or killing yourself, your friends or other innocent people.
  • Not taking your medication correctly can also be of concern. EXAMPLE: Diabetics can have sudden bouts of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, which leads to confusion, delayed reaction, visual disturbances or loss of consciousness.

When taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, consult with your doctor or pharmacist before driving.

Visit for more information on Medications and Driving.