Safety Tip: Five Ways Seat Belts Help Prevent Injuries
Photo courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
It’s important that fleet drivers remember to buckle up each and every trip. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, here are five ways seat belts protect occupants from injuries:
- Preventing ejection. Ejection greatly increases the chance of death or serious injury. The chance of being killed in a crash by being ejected from a vehicle is one in eight. Safety belts virtually eliminate ejection. The belted driver stays inside the car and is better protected from injury.
- Shifting crash forces to the strongest parts of the body’s structure. To get the most benefit from a seat belt, be aware of the following points:
- The lap belt should be worn low over the pelvis with the bottom edge touching the tops of the thighs snugly.
- The shoulder belt should be worn over the shoulder and across the chest, not under the arm and over the abdomen. Make certain that the shoulder belt is not worn so loosely that it slides off the shoulder.
- Pregnant women should wear the lap belt below the abdomen and the shoulder belt above the belly.
- Spreading crash forces over a wide area of the body. Safety belts reduce the possibility of injury from “hostile” surfaces inside the car (steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, controls, etc.). Even if the belted driver collides with some of these surfaces, it happens with much less force and often results in less serious injury.
- Keeping the body more closely in the “proper driving posture.” The belt keeps the driver “in the driver’s seat.” The belted driver is better able to deal with emergencies and often avoids more serious trouble.
- Protecting the head and spinal cord. The belted driver is less likely to be stunned or made unconscious by the crash and is better able to cope with the situation. Research has found that proper use of lap/shoulder belts reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45% and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50% (for occupants of light trucks, 60% and 65%, respectively).