A North Carolina man died after he was ejected from his car during an accident. Officials say he was not wearing a seat belt.
The man, who has not been publicly identified, was driving alone in Smithfield, North Carolina, at a high speed on Dec. 16, according to WRAL.
The driver reportedly veered off the right side of the road and over-corrected, causing him to careen into a culvert on the other side of the road. The impact caused the car to flip. It then hit a tree and landed upside down in a nearby yard, according to WRAL.
Troopers from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said the car did not have any airbags and the driver was not wearing a seat belt.
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, all drivers and passengers above the age of 16 are required to wear a seat belt. Only certain vehicles are exempt from this requirement, including cars made before 1968.
Not wearing a seat belt is punishable by a ticket in 49 states. New Hampshire is the only state which does not have seat belt requirements for adults, although it does require that those under the age of 18 wear a seat belt, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Despite seat belt laws being nearly ubiquitous, people still choose not to wear them while driving. About one in seven people don't use a seat belt, according to the CDC.
According to data from the CDC, car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans 30 and under. In 2009, 33,000 people were killed in car crashes and millions more injured -- and 53 percent of those were not wearing seat belts.
In the case of the North Carolina driver, a seat belt might have prevented him from being ejected from the car. People without seat belts are 30 times more likely to be thrown from the vehicle in a crash, according to the CDC. Seventy-five percent of people who are thrown from a car die as a result.
The CDC estimates that seat belts saved 13,000 lives in 2009. If everyone involved in a crash that year had been wearing seatbelts, the CDC estimates an additional 4,000 would have survived.
It is unclear if the driver in North Carolina would have survived had he been wearing a seat belt.
While seat belt laws exist in almost every state, the CDC recommends stricter enforcement to encourage everyone to buckle up.