Possessing competent defensive driving skills is not just restricted to technical driving techniques. A very simple and effective defensive driving technique is to wear a seat belt at times. This is one of the easiest ways of protecting yourself as a driver and a passenger. It is a well researched and proven fact that wearing seat belts save lives. Drivers of all ages should therefore make it their business to know everything possible about seat belt safety facts.
Research shows that occupants in a motor vehicle have a better than 40 percent chance of surviving a car accident if they are wearing a seat belt (this statistic does depend upon the severity of the accident – some accidents are so bad that surviving one would be impossible). However, in many accidents the wearing of seat belts by the occupants plays a significant role in reducing the number injuries. Approximately 20 per cent of all road fatalities each year are caused by people not wearing a seat belt. Hundreds of other people suffer severe lifelong disabilities in road accidents where they were not wearing a restraint.
Seat Belt Safety Facts – No. #1
Seat belts protect drivers and passengers in a number of ways, such as:
o Decreasing the time it takes an occupant to come to a stop upon impact
o Minimizing a person’s contact with the interior of the vehicle
o Spreading the force of the impact over a greater area of the body
o Preventing ejection from the vehicle.
Seat Belt Safety Facts – No. #2
If you are the driver, before the car starts moving you need to make sure of the following:
o Your own seat belt is properly fastened and adjusted to fit firmly
o Your passengers’ seat belts are properly fastened and adjusted firmly
o Children traveling in the car are properly restrained.
If you are a passenger, before the car starts moving make sure you have:
o Properly fastened and adjusted your seat belt
o Encourage the driver and other passengers to buckle up.
Seat Belt Safety Facts – No. #3
Being pregnant is no reason not to wear a seat belt. Wearing a seat belt means you are protecting both yourself and your unborn baby if you are involved in a crash. Here are a few tips for comfortably and correctly wearing a seat belt whilst pregnant:
o Place the lap sash part of the belt under the baby bulge, as low as possible. The lap part of the seat belt should sit over the upper thighs, not across the bulge.
o It is often possible to adjust the angle of the seat belt by using a seat belt locater.
o Make sure the sash part of the belt is in between the breasts.
Seat Belt Safety Facts – No. #4
Children must be restrained in a restraint suited to their size and weight. The restraint must be correctly and securely fitted to the car. In certain cars it is possible to fit an additional lap belt to accommodate a fourth small child in the back seat. Lap belts are not recommended on their own, but are safe if used in conjunction with a properly fitted child harness.
Before moving children from a booster seat into an adult seat belt, certain conditions should be met.
The adult seat belt fits correctly. The lap part is low over the pelvis (not the stomach) and the sash does not touch the child’s face or neck and all slack is removed.
o Lap/sash seat belts offer much greater protection than lap belts. Where possible put your child in a seating position with a lap/sash belt.
o Children riding in school buses must wear a seat belt if one is available. Only one seat belt per person must be used.
Seat Belt Safety Facts – No. #5
Seat belts must always be kept in good condition. Car owners should check the condition of seat belts in their vehicle as a standard part of vehicle maintenance routine. The following things should be checked:
o The seat belts themselves are not twisted, cut or frayed.
o The buckles are in good working order, engaging and releasing properly.
o The retractors work properly. The seat belt should pull out smoothly and be fully retracted when not in use.
here are many countries around the world where it is illegal not to wear a seat built. For example, in Australia, every person traveling in a car is required by law to wear a seat belt if one is available. There are tough penalties for those who do not abide by this law. Many other countries are introducing similar laws, and the message about important seat belt safety facts is being spread far and wide.
Buckling on a seat belt is a simple defensive driving technique any driver or passenger can utilize. Learning all the seat belt safety facts and introducing “buckling-up” into daily driving routines is one good place to start.