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Airline passengers are always asked to keep their seatbelts after landing, until the plane has reached the gate. But have there been any real world accidents where the lack of seatbelts has resulted in an injury or death of a passenger?

I’m only interested in cases related to planes used in commercial aviation, with a capacity of at least 50 passengers. I'm likewise only interested in injuries that were directly attributed to the lack of seatbelts after the fact.

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    $\begingroup$ Not an exact answer, so in comments: The worse single loss of life was the collision at Tenerife. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenerife_airport_disaster One of those aircraft was taxing and 61 people on board survived. But, I don't know how many of those people were belted and how many of the others were not. $\endgroup$
    – Adam
    Jul 29, 2023 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ If your seatbelt is fastened, you quite certainly aren't standing up, which is where the real danger comes in... a sudden stop from 20 or 30 knots of taxi speed could send a standing passenger tumbling in some pretty awful ways. The easiest way to ensure against somebody standing up when they shouldn't, is to reinforce keeping the seatbelts fastened until stopping at the gate AND the "fasten seatbelt" sign is off -- because simply "stopping" can happen well before reaching the gate. Valid question, nevertheless. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Jul 29, 2023 at 19:30

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It seems unlikely. Taxi accidents are fairly rare and most people comply with seatbelt rules. It's also entirely possible that any such injury would not be attributed to lack of a seatbelt since the injured passenger is hardly likely to admit that they weren't wearing a seatbelt in the first place.

A search of the NTSB database for accident investigations under part 121 containing the word "seatbelt" yields 158 results. Most of them are related to turbulence, with most of the rest being in flight or on takeoff or landing.

The closest example I could find is Independence Air Flight 1784, NTSB accident #ATL05IA116, where the nose gear spontaneously collapsed while the airplane was parked at the gate. This was post-taxi and the seatbelt light was off, so this is plausibly a reason that seatbelts should remain fastened even after taxi until the airplane is fully secured.

This shouldn't be taken as evidence that seatbelts have never prevented injuries during taxi, of course. There have been plenty of times planes have been forced to stop suddenly or have hit each other during taxi, and each of these is an incident that could have become such an example if people hadn't been wearing their seatbelts.

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    $\begingroup$ A few years ago there was a video of a regional jet taxiing in front of an A380 which turned off the main taxiway but then had to stop. The jumbo kept going, the pilot unaware that his wingtip would impact the rj's tail. The video looked like a toy airplane kicked across the floor, the way the rj reacted to the hit. Seatbelts for all probably prevented a LOT of nasty injuries in that case! $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Jul 29, 2023 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ Jeez, that's nuts! And a perfect example. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jul 30, 2023 at 4:28

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