How Do Seatbelts Keep You Safe In A Collision
There is a good reason why every state has some type of seat belt laws in effect. Seat belts are one of the most important safety features on your vehicle. Seat belts have been shown to reduce the risk of a fatal injury by up to fifty percent for front seat occupants and up to seventy-five perfect for back seat occupants. Seat belts prevent one of the main causes of fatalies during an accident – getting ejected from the vehicle after a collision.
How Do Seat Belts Work?
It’s important to know why seat belts work and the idea behind them is fairly simple. When you’re in a car, your body is moving at the same speed as the vehicle. When you’re in a collision, the car itself stops moving but your body doesn’t. Without something holding you in place, your body would go flying forward while your vehicle stopped. This action could cause you to be ejected from the vehicle or to collide with another part of your car.
A seat belts purpose is to hold you in place in case of an accident. The most common seat belt type is a 3-point seat belt, also called a lap/shoulder belt, which includes a lap belt and a shoulder belt and has three attachment points, one near each hip and one over a shoulder. When you get into a collision while wearing a 3-point seat belt, it disperses your body’s momentum into your chest, your shoulders and your pelvis. This may leave you sore and bruised but it will keep you in your seat.
How Your Seat Belt Protects You
Modern 3-point seat belts protect you in a multitude of ways, the most obvious being that it keeps you in your seat in the case of a collision. Here are a few ways that seat belts protect you when you are in an accident.
Keeps occupants in the vehicle
The most obvious, and most important, way is your seat belt will keep you in your seat in the case of a collision. Research has proven that being ejected from a vehicle results in more fatalities and serious injuries compared to people who remain inside a vehicle. According to the NHTSA, those ejected from a vehicle during an accident are four times more likely to be killed than those held inside by a seat belt.
Spreads the forces of the collision over a bigger surface area
To provide maximum restraint while minimizing injury, lap-and-shoulder belts spread the force of the crash over a wide area of the body. For drivers and front-seat passengers, shoulder straps also help keep the head and upper body from contacting the windshield, dashboard and steering wheel, which is a leading cause of serious injury.
Protects your brain and spinal cord
Whiplash is a common injury suffered during a collision. When worn correctly, your seat belt can minimize injury by reducing the speed and impact of the whiplash.
Restrains the strongest part of the body
3-point seatbelts are designed to restrain your body at its points of greatest strengths. For adults and older children, this would be at your hips and shoulders.
Young children are not built the same as older children and adults and therefore have different requirements for seat belt safety. Your child’s safety depends on their age, weight and height. Check with your state laws to determine the restrictions based on weight and height, but the general rule of thumb is a child is not old enough for a regular seat belt until they are at least four feet nine inches, usually between age eight and twelve. And if you have been in an car accident, be sure to replace every child car seat that was in the crash regardless if a child was sitting in it or not.
No matter your age or driving experience, seat belts are one of the most important factors in keeping you safe during a collision. Instill good seat belt habits with your children and always require that passengers buckle up when getting into your vehicle.