Buckle Up!

6 Feb 2017

 

Seat belts have been compulsory in the front of a car since 1983, and in the rear since 1986. While the vast majority of drivers and passengers use them, around 10% of front seat passengers and 35% of rear passengers still flout the law, putting their lives at risk. Surprisingly, it’s the 17-34 age group that are the least likely to buckle up, despite growing up with it being a legal requirement.

Excuses given range from discomfort, freedom of movement, thinking it’s uncool, the belief that it’s safer in the back, that it’s harder to talk to other passengers, to it’s not worth it for short drives. But why would you rate comfort, conversation, coolness and convenience over staying alive?

Seat belts reduce fatalities in collisions by 50%. They are designed to stop you being thrown around or out of the vehicle. While more people are resistant to wearing belts in the rear of a car, using a restraint doesn’t just protect you, but will stop you from potentially killing people in the front of the vehicle as well, as your body impacts with many times its normal force.

Other safety features such as air bags and head restraints are designed to work in conjunction with seat belts, and won’t be effective on their own. Air bags are ejected at around 200mph, and are intended to inflate as the seatbelt retracts on impact then cushion the crash victim as the belt relaxes. Being hit with the full force of an airbag while unrestrained can cause horrific injuries and potentially be lethal.

For a seat belt to work correctly,

  • The belt should be worn as tight as possible, with no slack
  • The lap belt should go over the pelvic region, not the stomach
  • The diagonal strap should rest over the shoulder, not the neck
  • Nothing should obstruct the smooth movement of the belt by trapping it

In many cars, you can adjust the height of the top of the seat belt on the pillar, which will help it rest correctly on your shoulder.

You should check your seat belts regularly for damage. Look out for the following

  • Fraying or fluffing around the edges of the seat belt
  • A cut which causes the fabric to split
  • A hole in the seat belt
  • Damage to the buckle

You can receive a fine of up to £500 for not wearing your seat belt. Drivers are responsible for passenger ages 14 and under, while young people and adult passengers are responsible for their own safety. However, we urge all passengers and drivers to challenge fellow travellers if they choose to break the law. No matter how short or familiar the journey, wearing a seat belt will help protect all car occupants. Belt up for every trip, and arrive alive.

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