I know most of you are saying “I already do that,” and that is great news, but read on to learn just a little more about seat belts and see if you are using them correctly. Seat belt usage in the U.S. has reached an all-time high with 86 percent of us buckling up. Even with these increasing usage rates, there were 33,561 people who died and 2.36 million people injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2012. So just why do we need seat belts and what do they do anyway?
When a crash happens, there are three separate collisions that occur during the crash:
- The first collision is the vehicle collision, where the vehicle collides with another object.
- The second collision is the human collision, where the occupant – you -- continue to move toward the point of impact at the same speed that the vehicle was moving at until they connect with an outside force, hopefully your seatbelt. If you’re not buckled up, then the vehicle interior, window or other object in the path of motion.
- The third collision is the internal collision where the occupant’s internal organs move toward the point of impact and hit other organs, bones and the skull.
Five ways seat belts prevent injury:
- Keeps occupants inside the vehicle
- Restrains the strongest parts of the body – hips and shoulders
- Spreads out any force from the collision
- Helps the body slow down in a crash
- Protects your brain and spinal cord.
How should your seat belt be worn? The shoulder belt should rest securely across the chest and shoulder, not the neck or face. It should never be placed under the arm or behind the back, as that could lead to injuries. The lap belt should fit snugly, placed low over the hips/upper thighs.
For pregnant women the lap portion of the belt needs to be placed under their pregnant belly.
Getting the right fit is as important as wearing it. Your vehicle has many safety features such as air bags and crush zones, but those can only keep you safe if you are inside the vehicle.
Remember buckle up every trip, every time.