The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tells us that in the year 2015 alone, an estimated 13,941 lives were saved due to seat belt usage. The usage rate throughout the country further backs this statistic up: The latest reported national seat belt use rate sits impressively at 88.5 percent. Still, the United States Department of Transportation reports that an astounding number of drivers – around 27.5 million – neglect to buckle up when they get behind the wheel.
Making Your Seat Belt Work for You
If you are among the 88.5 percent of drivers across the nation who chooses to buckle up for safety, you can give yourself a pat on the back, as you are instantly safer than those 27.5 million drivers who do not. If you are wearing your belt incorrectly, though, you may actually be placing yourself at just as much risk for injury as those who neglect to wear their seat belt entirely. How can this be possible? Your belt is engineered and designed to protect you according to certain specifications, so when you wear it the wrong way, you are preventing the design from doing its job.
Here are three signs you may be wearing your seat belt incorrectly, and why they are a threat to your safety, should you experience a collision:
1. The belt sits across your stomach – Experts emphasize that proper fit is everything when it comes to wearing your belt. It should sit across your hips, not your stomach, and across your shoulder, as the shoulder and your hip bones are the bones that are able to withstand pressure, should you be involved in a collision. If you leave the belt across your stomach, you are more likely to experience injury, as this area of your body is not as equipped to withhold crash forces as bone structure.
2. The belt is crossing your neck – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urges us to make sure the lap belt is secure across the pelvis and ribcage, and that the shoulder belt is placed across the middle part of your chest and away from your neck. The head and neck are especially prone to injury during impact, which is why sliding the shoulder belt over your neck is a dangerous move. If you are positioning the strap high around your neck, behind your back, or under your arm, you are wearing your belt incorrectly.
3. The belt is too loose or too tight – Proper fit means more than just the right placement and position of the belt. It also means the straps must not be too snug or too loose when worn over your chest and hip bones. If you need more room or help adjusting the straps, ask your car dealer for help. Also, if you drive an older vehicle where the shoulder straps are nonexistent, you can also inquire about modifications that allow you to install updated versions of the outdated belts in your car.
If you were involved in an accident and have been injured, speak with a knowledgeable New Braunfels car accident attorney, whether you were wearing your seat belt properly or not. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, and proper legal counsel is important when it comes time to protect your rights in a court of law. Call the Bettersworth Law Firm today at 830-443-9193 for a personal consultation.