The seat belt is, according to the World Health Organization, one of the inventions that has saved the most lives.

These are a safety package with the other main restraint systems, such as the airbag, child restraint systems and head restraints. But we must know that the latter can be ineffective if we do not wear the seat belt.

The belt is the most important element for passive safety since it acts as a brake on our body in the event of an impact. Contrary to what it might seem, the seatbelt is not used to prevent passengers from moving in the event of a collision, but rather to cushion their deceleration. Also, the belt is made to stretch; it is not that its fibres are elastic, but rather that they are woven to lose width and gain length in order not to cause serious injury to the user.

When riding in a vehicle, especially a driver must bear in mind some very important questions regarding the seat belt. For example, in frontal collisions, wearing a seat belt divides the risk of death and serious head injury by nine, and reduces the risk of injuries, fractures and other injuries by a quarter. And in the event of a rear-end collision, it cuts the risk of death or serious injury by half. Wearing a seatbelt in the rear seats is as important as doing it in the front seats as it prevents excessive displacement of the occupant in the event of a frontal impact, as well as a joint movement of the seat and passenger in the event of a side impact. On the other hand, the passengers behind go exactly at the same speed as those in front and are subject to the same deceleration in the event of an impact.

In 1958, Nils Bohlin, a Volvo engineer, patented the three-point belt; a year later it was offered as standard on all the brand’s models. Since then, the seat belt has become the best passive safety system. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seatbelts saved the lives of nearly 10,000 people in 1995, or about 27 lives a day.

The crash tests that are carried out with mannequins are also sure to sound familiar to you. They are 1.74 meters tall and weigh approximately 76 kilograms, the force exerted on the belt in the event of an impact is 1000 kg! and the body moves about 25 cm forward. Can you imagine an impact without a belt?

Nils Bohlin

Types of belts.

There are currently four types of belt, some more effective than others:

  • Thoracic (very little recommended separately).
  • Sit-ups (typical of the rear central square that already tend to disappear).
  • Harnesses (typical of racing cars)
  • Mixed or with three anchor points: The most common, a combination of the abdominal and thoracic, reduce the displacement of the body. Brands already incorporate this type of belt in the rear central square, replacing the abdominals, to improve safety.

For the correct use of the seat belt it is important to consider the following:

  1. Each and every front and rear seat occupant must use it.
  2. The fabric band must not be worn, cut or have damaged edges.
  3. The top tape should go over the shoulder and not across the neck or throat.
  4. The lower belt should cross over the hipbones and not the stomach.
  5. It should be fastened without folds and snug against the body.
  6. It should be used in short or long stretches either in the city or on the highway.
  7. A pregnant woman should also use it, the abdominal band should go as low as possible on the hips since if it is carried on the belly, the baby could suffer some damage.

Remember that the correct use of a seat belt reduces the risk of death by half and reduces the severity of injuries in the event of an accident.