Safety Belts

Posted in: Vehicles

What does a seat belt do?

Safety belts are what hold passengers inside the vehicle during a crash–so wearing your safety belt is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and others in your vehicle safe.

By wearing your safety belt, you not only protect yourself, you also protect other people inside the vehicle. Unrestrained passengers become projectiles in a crash and can hit other passengers (with thousands of pounds of force). Restrained passengers are up to two times more likely to die if ONE person in the car is unrestrained. Why would you secure your child in a car seat but leave yourself unrestrained, especially if you become a danger to him in a crash?

How does a safety belt work?

Diagram courtesy of General Motors

Diagram courtesy of General Motors

In a crash, things weigh their weight multiplied by the speed of the crash. So in a 30 mph crash, a 100 pound woman will weigh 3000 pounds! Safety belts are designed to withstand the enormous forces present in a crash and will hold you inside the car. Safety Belts are also designed to distribute these forces over the strongest portions of your body, helping to prevent more serious injury.

Is there a difference between types of safety belts? Is a lap-and-shoulder belt safer than a lap-only belt?

Lap-and-shoulder belts provide better upper body protection than do lap-only belts. The shoulder portion of the belt not only spreads the crash forces out over a larger area of your body, it also prevents your upper body from moving forward during the crash, which means you’re less likely to hit your head against the dashboard, other seats, or even your own knees. Unfortunately, some vehicles still offer lap-only belts in the rear center position. Lap-only belts provide less protection than do lap-and-shoulder belts and also cannot be used with booster seats (which can impact carpooling arrangements). When purchasing a new vehicle, try to buy one with lap-and-shoulder belts in every position, so that everyone can ride safely no matter where they must sit in the vehicle.

I want more info on seat belts!

Visit Takata’s website. Takata is a leading manufacturer of seat belts and has a great discussion of seat belts, airbags, and other safety info.

I can’t find all the seat belts in my car! Help!

Different vehicle manufactures use different types of seat belts to work with the vehicle seat shape and location. In older cars, the seat belt may be located on the door. In newer vehicles the seat belt is usually mounted on the side of the vehicle. Sometimes the seat belt is located on the ceiling and is pretty well concealed from view. In this situation, you need to sort of build the seat belt yourself–it comes locked into a compartment on the ceiling of your car and must be assembled by you! Vehicles with this sort of seat belt include the Toyota RAV-4, the Subaru Forester, and other small SUV’s.

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