Safety with Seat Belts
Every motor vehicle crash has two collisions. The first is a collision of the car with another object. But the second is more important in terms of life and death. That’s when the driver or passenger collides with the vehicle’s interior or is thrown out of the vehicle to collide with the ground, another car, or an object such as a wall.
Ejection from a vehicle occurs 10 times more often to occupants who are not wearing seat belts. The best protection for people in a collision is to use lap belts and shoulder restraints. In a head-on collision, these safety restraints can dramatically reduce the chance of injury to the head or the face and cut in half the risk of serious or fatal injury. Every person in the car must wear a seat belt. It’s the law, and it can save your life.
If you transport small children (age 6 and under), be sure your car is equipped with a child safety seat for each child. Be sure the child safety seat is installed and secured to the vehicle’s backseat the way the manufacturer recommends. Children always must ride in the backseat. Children who are too large for a child safety seat must wear a seat belt. Children who are not protected by safety restraints face increased risk of serious injury. (Traffic injuries are a leading cause of death for children.) During a crash, an unrestrained child becomes an uncontrolled missile that can crash through a windshield or careen into any object or person in the vehicle.
Do not consider air bags a substitute for safety belts. Air bags are designed to inflate only during head-on collisions and are useful only as supplements for seat belts. Also, air bags offer no protection during multiple crashes, rollovers, or side collisions. Air bags have been the cause of a number of serious injuries to children and several deaths. They are one of many reasons that children always should ride in back.
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