These annual estimates of lives saved, have been produced by NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis since 1975. The estimates are calculated using the effectiveness of each device or law that is mentioned.
In addition to the 12,174 lives saved in 2012 by seat belts (occupants 5 and older), 2,213 lives were saved by frontal air bags (occupants 13 and older), 1,699 lives were saved by motorcycle helmets, 525 lives were saved by 21-year-old-minimum-drinking-age laws, and 284 lives (4 and younger) were saved by child restraints (child safety seats and lap/shoulder belts).
An additional 3,031 lives would have been saved in 2012 if all unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants 5 and older involved in fatal crashes had worn their seat belts; and if all motorcyclists had been helmeted, then an additional 781 lives would have been saved.
The simple truth: Seat belts save lives. Period. End of story. No questions.