Seat belts have saved 300,000 lives since they became standard equipment 50 years ago. But still, 25 million people don't buckle up, especially in the back seat. Consumer Reports said that's a danger to everyone in the car.
Tyler Elzey, 19, and his best friend, Harrison, were going for just a short ride. They were in the back-seat - no seat belts on - when the driver lost control and crashed. All were killed. It is a scene that is difficult for his mother, Suzanne Elzey, to relive.
"Tyler and Harrison basically became projectiles. Their heads hit each other. He suffered multiple skull fractures. Not wearing a seat belt can make you a lethal weapon," she said.
It's estimated a quarter to a third of passengers in the back seat don't buckle up with young people being the worst offenders. That's many more than don't buckle up in front.
"People may think it's OK to be unbelted in the back seat or skip the belt altogether if it's just a short trip. Well that's just wrong," said Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports.
Most fatal car crashes occur within 25 miles of home. Being unbuckled in the back seat increases your risk of dying in a crash to three times what it is if you have your seat belt on according to the Governor's Highway Safety Association.
Unbuckled passengers in the back seat also can pose a danger to people buckled-up in the front.
"Unbelted passengers in the back can be flung forward in a crash with such tremendous force that they can injure, or even kill, the people in the front," Linkov said.
Elzey started a website called cruisesafe.org to educate kids not to do what Tyler and his friends did routinely - skip the seat belts.
"These four kids, who were all really good kids, just graduated from high school and in an instant they were all gone," Elzey said.
It's not only lives seat belts can save. It's estimated that medical costs and lost productivity due to accidents involving the failure to use seat belts has so far cost the U.S. about $10 billion.
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Consumer Reports: Seat belt safety