are not "accidents," or random, uncontrollable acts of fate; rather, most injuries are predictable and preventable. While wearing of seat belts for the front seat passengers in motor vehicles has been made compulsory by the Supreme Court, the Government will make it mandatory for even rear seat passengers to wear safety belts from October 2002. Any person contravening this law will be punishable under Section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988. Car crashes cripple and kill more people from birth to age 35 than anything else. Many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented with safety seats.
What happens in a crash?
In a car crash, there are two collisions. The first is when the car hits something, or is hit, and comes to a sudden stop. The second crash happens a split second later when anyone not buckled in can fly forward, slamming into the steering wheel, windshield, dashboard or front seat (from the back seat).
In most cars the safety belt is one unit made up of the lap and shoulder belt. In some cars the lap and shoulder belts are separate. Always wear both. If a car only has a lap belt, wear it. In a crash or sudden stop, safety seats and belts hold everyone in their place. This helps keep them from smashing into the inside of the car or into each other. It also keeps them from being thrown through the windshield.
It takes only a second or two for an adult to buckle up. It takes only a couple of minutes to get a baby into the safety seat. Take the time to be safe - even when you are only going a short distance.
Safety belts improve your chances of travelling safely in many ways.
Many injuries or deaths occur when a person inside the car collides with:
- the steering wheel
- the dashboard
- windshield and frame
- a door
- a window
- the roof
- other passengers
A safety belt stops this human collision by holding you in place. Keep you inside the car
You are 25 times more likely to be killed or injured if you are thrown from the car. If you are thrown "free" you may be thrown into:
Spread out the force of a collision
- the path of your own car if it rolls over
- a tree, telephone pole or other object
Keep you conscious
- A safety belt stops you from moving after the car has stopped so the force of the collision is lessened
- A safety belt spreads the force of the collision over the strongest parts of your body-your hips and shoulders
Since safety belts prevent the "human collision," there's a better chance you'll remain conscious. If you remain conscious, you can:
- release your belt in an instant
- take action to help yourself and others.
Help keep you in control and prevent minor injuries
In an emergency, safety belts keep you behind the wheel and ready to react if necessary. Being in control can help you keep injuries minor or avoid them altogether.
What is your reason for not wearing one?
"I am only going to the shopping centre." Actually, this is the best time to wear a safety belt, since 80% of traffic fatalities occur within a small distance from home.
"I won't be in an accident: I am a good driver." Your good driving record will certainly help you avoid accidents. But even if you are a good driver, a bad driver may still hit you.
"I'll just brace myself." Even if you had the split-second timing to do this, the force of the impact would shatter the arm or leg you used to brace yourself.
"I am afraid the belt will trap me in the car." Statistically, the best place to be during an accident is in your car. If you're thrown out of the car, you are 25 times more likely to die. And if you need to get out of the car in a hurry-as in the extremely tiny percent of accidents involving fire, you can get out a lot faster if you haven't been knocked unconscious inside your car.
"The are uncomfortable." Actually, modern safety belts can be made so comfortable that you may wonder if they really work. You can put a little bit of slack in most belts simply by pulling on the shoulder strap. Others come with comfort clips, which hold the belt in a slightly slackened position. If the belt does not fit around you, you can get a belt extender at most car dealerships.
"I do not need a belt – I have got an airbag." An air bag increases the effectiveness of a safety belt by 40 percent. But air bags were never meant to be used in place of safety belts, since they do not protect against side impacts at all.
How to wear a safety belt during your pregnancy?
When wearing your safety belt:
- Always wear both the lap and shoulder belt.
- Buckle the lap belt low on your hipbones, below your belly.
- Never put the lap belt across your belly.
- Place the shoulder belt across the center of the chest (between your breasts), never under your arm.
- Make sure the belts fit snugly.
The upper part of the belt should cross your shoulder without chafing your neck. Never slip the upper part of the belt off your shoulder. Safety belts worn too loosely or too high on the belly can cause broken ribs or injuries to your belly. But more damage is caused when they are not used at all.
Car safety for you and your baby
When you are pregnant, you take extra care to eat well and avoid things that might harm your baby. After birth, you still need to protect your baby. The best way to keep you and your baby safe in a car or truck is to use safety belts and child safety seats. Buckle up every time you drive or ride. It takes only a few seconds.
Many new cars have air bags to protect the driver and the passenger riding in the front seat. Air bags are inside the steering wheel and dashboard in front of the passenger seat.
In a crash, air bags inflate very fast. The force of an air bag can hurt people who are too close to it. To avoid injury to you and your child from an air bag, follow these steps:
- Never put a child age 12 and under in the front seat - children should always ride in back.
- Never put an infant seat that faces the rear of the car in the front seat.
- Buckle up with both the lap and shoulder belts on every trip.
- Keep driver and passenger seats as far back from the dashboard as you can.