Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 | 2 a.m.
It seems that almost weekly I read of accidents that may have been far less tragic if the occupants wore seat belts.
As a physicist, this pains me greatly because I know that the use of seat belts could likely be the one crucial factor enabling the occupants of vehicles to survive accidents, particularly in instances where they were ejected from the vehicle.
When a vehicle crashes or rolls, unpredictable and uncontrollable forces change its momentum. If the driver and other occupants are not physically attached via seat belts, they will continue in their original direction of motion, unabated, until they collide with something or are ejected from the interior of the vehicle
Vehicles are designed to protect occupants by distributing the energy from the crash into other external parts of the car. The key assumption and design factor is that the occupants are wearing seat belts.
I beseech my fellow Nevadans to develop the good habit of always wearing seat belts when driving or being driven.
The letter writer is an associate professor of physics at UNLV.