Safety: Belt up for life
When people go to purchase a car, they carefully look at different models, admire the shiny paint, see the flashing silver wheel caps and run fingers over the steering wheel. But there is one very important feature of the car that we tend to overlook and that is the seat belt.
It isn’t much to look at, just a strap of dull grey fabric that hangs dully on the side of the car. Most of us, when in a hurry, simply disregard the floppy grey belt and whiz off in our cars to the next location.
Perhaps we aren’t aware that statistics have shown that wearing a seat belt can increase your chances of surviving a crash by a whopping 50 percent! In fact, experts have speculated that if Princess Diana of Wales had been wearing a seat belt at the time of her car crash, her injuries would not have been as severe and she might not have died!
In our country, experts claim that in the majority of cases of accidents here, seat belts, when used properly, reduce the number of serious traffic injuries by 50 percent and fatalities by 60-70 percent.
After reading these statistics you’re probably wondering, how on earth can that thin strip of polyester keep me safe in a car?
Let’s explore how the seat belt actually works. The law of inertia states that an object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by another force.
If a car is cruising along a road at a steady speed of 80km/h, and is suddenly hit by another car, the body of the passenger in the front seat will be thrown forward into the windshield because the body continues its original direction of motion. A force has already acted on the car to slow it down but not on the passenger!
The car may have stopped its speed of 80 km/h because it has crashed with another car but there is no force to stop the body of the passenger, which, as per the law of inertia, will continue to move at the original speed and direction that the car was moving. So a passenger without a seat belt will be thrown in the same direction the car was moving (forward, into the windshield), with a speed of 80km/h!
This part is where the seat belt comes into play. If a seat belt is worn when the person’s body is trying to continue the original motion, the seat belt will hold them back and prevent them from flying forward into the windshield! That is how the thin, tiny seat belt that people regard as irritating, can actually save your life!
A seat belt is made up of two parts. The first part rests over the pelvis of the passenger and the second part rests over the shoulder and across the chest. When the car stops abruptly the seat belt applies the stopping force across a large section of the body so the damage is reduced.
They are designed so that the machinery behind them tightens up the belt to hold the passenger in place when the car stops abruptly.
Now that you’ve learned and understood what a difference that grey strap can make, so the next time you’re heading out, make sure that you buckle up because seat belts save lives!