Teens and seat belts

Q&A with Sharon Peters

Q: We live in Colorado and read that 64 percent of teen drivers and passengers here don’t wear seatbelts. That was shocking to me. Are we higher than normal here? Not that it matters much, as we’re definitely going to have a conversation with our twins. Still, are there any national figures?

A: There are national figures that suggest Colorado may definitely be on the high end. There seems to be no absolute apples-to-apples comparison (methodologies aren’t identical) but here’s what I’ve found: 45 percent of high school students in one national study in 2013 said they don’t always wear seatbelts. And a study from Safe Kids Worldwide found that 25 teens said they don’t buckle up when riding with a teen driver if there’s no adult in the car.

This lower-than-one-would-mightexpect compliance is perplexing to officials. Ninety percent of adults now wear seatbelts, even though for many, adopting this practice required a complete mind and behavior reframing, given that many of them drove for years before seatbelts were mandatory. Teens, on the other hand, have grown up in a culture where seatbelt use has always been mandatory.

The whole invincibility belief, of course, plays a big role in teens’ lack of compliance. And then there’s that business about young people acting like, well, young people. When challenged about their lack of seatbelt use, teens offer the following explanations (in more or less these words): seatbelts aren’t comfortable, the trip was short, it’s not cool to wear a seatbelt, and seatbelts have no positive impact in the rare situation where an accident occurs.

And yet, 60 percent of drivers 16 to 20 years old who were killed in 2013 crashes weren’t wearing seatbelts, and about 65 percent of fatalities among teens that were occupants weren’t wearing them.

Q: Are bamboo steering wheels actually superior?

A: Well, Lexus certainly thinks so.

The company boasts its relatively new bamboo steering wheel has better grip comfort and is substantially more eco-sensitive (because bamboo grows faster than other commonly used woods like maple and ash).

I must be ham-handed, because I didn’t notice a boost in grip comfort. The eco argument probably matters to some.

I regard bamboo as an interesting distinguishing characteristic, not an earth-shaker.

© CTW Features

What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email Sharon@ctwfeatures.com.