How Safety Belts Prevent Injuries

Research has shown that safety belts, when used properly, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent. There are 6 ways that safety belts and child restraints help to protect occupants of motor vehicles in crashes:

  • Prevent ejection: Passenger vehicles are designed to keep occupants inside the vehicle where they can be protected. People thrown from a vehicle are four times more likely to be killed than those who remain inside. One of the most prevalent myths about safety belt use is that you are better off being “thrown clear” of a crash. Statistics prove otherwise.
  • Contact the body at the strongest parts of its structure: For an older child and adult, these parts are the hips and shoulders. For an infant and young child, there is really no part strong enough, so the child restraint supports the entire body to avoid stress on any one part.
  • Spread forces over a wide area of the body putting less stress on any one part.
  • Allow the body to slowly ride down the crash: Vehicles are engineered to crush in a controlled manner. Vehicle crush zones help extend the time it takes the vehicle to slow down. Safety belts tightly secure the occupant to the vehicle so the person can take maximum advantage of the extended stopping time and distance afforded by the crushing front end.
  • Protect the head and spinal cord: A shoulder belt or CRS harness helps to keep the head and upper body away from the hard interior surfaces of the vehicle. Correct fit is very important.
  • Keeps occupants of the vehicle from striking each other: Unbuckled rear seat occupants can injure buckled up front seat occupants as well as themselves when they are thrown around or out of the car in a crash. The force of a human body flying into the front seat is calculated to be 3.5 tons for a 30-mile per hour crash.