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A tragic auto crash near Indianapolis is a sobering reminder of the importance of seat belts.

Four central Indiana teenagers were killed after their car crossed a median on a state highway near Indianapolis and struck a minivan. A fifth passenger in the car and a family of four in the van were treated for injuries at a nearby hospital. According to police, those killed were not wearing a seat belt, but the five survivors were. The crash is still under investigation.

Given the fact that a fifth passenger in the car escaped with non-life threatening injuries, most likely the four deceased teens would have survived the crash had they been wearing a seat belt as well. Seat belts continue to be the single most effective protection device in your vehicle reducing serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half. Yet, despite the risks, many people still neglect to buckle up. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the teens (aged 13-20 years) that died in crashes in 2012, approximately 55% of them were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Furthermore, adults age 18-34 are less likely to wear seat belts than adults age 35 or older. For those that survive the crash, the physical recovery is challenging enough. Adding the financial impact of managing medical expenses and ongoing treatments can make the process even more devastating. Not wearing a seat belt can also change one’s legal case. Depending on state laws, a decision to not wear a seat belt can have a crippling effect on a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the accident. Insurance coverage may also be limited or denied, and premiums could increase after the claim. Is it really worth all the risks?

The NHTSA states that buckling up is the “single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.” Wearing a seat belt not only keeps you safe in the event of an accident, but works along with other safety features, including your air bags. Whether you find seat belts un-cool or uncomfortable, keep in mind that the risk of injury or death is much higher when not wearing a seat belt. Whatever temporary discomfort a safety belt provides is not worth the risks or the costs. I encourage all of my readers to make safety a habit. The next time you get in an automobile, remember to buckle up first. Should you be involved in an accident, you and your loved ones will be glad you did.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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