Fastening the seat belt protects motorists in a crash, but the risk of dying in a wreck rises if fellow passengers do not buckle up, researchers said on Tuesday.
“A car occupant could be killed if struck by another occupant who was catapulted forward, backward, or sideways in a crash,” wrote study authors Peter Cummings and Frederick Rivara in this week’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In crashes where a back seat passenger was not wearing a seat belt, the risk of death to the belted passenger in the front seat rose 20 percent, the study said. Similarly, a back seat belted passenger faced a 22 percent greater risk if the passenger in the front seat was not buckled up.
Examining 12 years of U.S. crash data, the researchers from Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center in Seattle concluded that one in six deaths of front seat passengers wearing a seat belt might be prevented if the back seat passenger was also strapped in.