How Important Are Seat belts?
Seat belts have saved lives ever since their inclusion in automobiles back in 1959 and they continue to do so on a daily basis. Because seat belts protect the driver and passengers in the event of an accident, the best way to ensure you have a safe trip from point A to point B is to make sure everyone wears their seatbelt whenever the car is moving.
How Do Seat Belts Work?
Seatbelts work as a three-point harness system with one belt going across the lap and the other going diagonally across the rib and pelvic cage. A mechanism inside the belt locks it in place when it detects sudden stops. This makes for a more comfortable ride because passengers aren’t always restrained in a locked position. Seat belts save lives by allocating the force from a crash to two of the strongest areas on the human body; the pelvis and chest. Seat belts prevent an individual from flying through a windshield and as a result, protect the spinal cord from serious injury.
National Highway Traffic Administration Facts from 2014
- 21,022 people died in traffic crashes
- 12,802 lives were saved by riders who wore seat belts
- 73 percent of passengers wearing seat belts involved in an accident with a fatality survived
- Only 42 percent of non-restrained passengers survived in similar circumstances
Proper Use of Seat Belts to Help Prevent Injuries
- Position the lap belt across your upper thighs.
- Position the shoulder belt across your chest.
- Always use both the lap and shoulder belt. The lap belt alone will not prevent you from being thrown around or even out of the vehicle.
- Ensure that the belt fits your body comfortably and securely.
Proper Child Restraints
- Children under the age of two should be in a rear-facing car seat.
- Children should sit in a highback, belt-positioning booster seat to ensure the belt goes across the chest and not the neck and stomach which could cause internal injuries.
- Only individuals 12 years of age or older should be permitted to sit in the front seat.
- Disable airbags when a child is sitting in the front seat or when car seats are used in the front such as in the case of single cab trucks.
Airbags and Safety
Air bags are designed to make your vehicle safer, but should not be counted on to be the sole safety feature. They should be used along with seat belts. Air bags cushion the contact between the driver and the steering wheel or between the front passenger and the dashboard. In newer vehicles, air bags may be present that create a cushion between the passenger and the door. Air bags do not prevent passengers from being thrown from their position or through a window because they are not restraints. Air bags can actually be more dangerous if you aren’t wearing your seatbelt because you might not be in the correct position for it to work as designed.
Don’t underestimate the protection that seat belts provide for you and your passengers in both the front and back seats. Wear them at all times no matter how long or short the duration of the trip. You never know when an accident will occur, and wearing a proper restraint is a simple act that could ultimately make the difference between life and death.