Montana Department of Transportation

Malcolm “Mack” Long, Director


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Buckle Up: The Deadly Equation

Like falling out of a building

At just 30 mph, a person not wearing a seat belt in a crash has the same experience as falling from a 3-story building or getting rammed by a 3.5 ton elephant.

Length: 00:00:47 | More videos

There are three collisions

There are actually three collisions in every crash: the vehicle collision; the human collision; and the internal collision (inside your body).

Read Three Collisions (PDF) | 3 Collisions video
3 Collisions in a Crash - For Your Safety and Awareness

Unbuckled bodies collide

You're not the only one who will get hurt if you're not wearing your seatbelt in a crash. Unbuckled bodies can collide at crash force into other people in the same vehicle seriously injuring or even killing them.

Watch Backseat Bullet

Calculate your crash force

The impact to your body in a crash is called crash force. Crash force is equal to your body weight multiplied by the speed of the vehicle.

Try it - calculate your crash force:


If you hold your child while riding in a vehicle, you could crush the child during a crash. In a 30 mph crash, a 100 pound adult becomes a 3,000 pound force against the child. That is why it's important for each passenger in a vehicle to be independently and properly restrained with a seatbelt or a child restraint.

Will EMTs reach you in time?

For many serious injuries, the first hour of care is critical. However, response time is greater in rural areas due to factors such as distance and geography. If you are seriously injured, will EMTs reach you in time? If you buckle up, you are less likely to suffer a serious injury and you have a much better chance of surviving until EMTs reach you.

Buckle Up: The Deadly Equation | How Seatbelts Work | In Montana, It's the Law