Seat Belt Injuries

Many people would be surprised to learn just how common seat belt injuries are during a car accident. During a collision, the car stops abruptly while the passengers continue to be in motion. The passenger is stopped by either the seat belt restraint or by colliding with something inside of the vehicle.

Most seat belt injuries result from improperly designed or improperly used restraints. Seat belts differ from vehicle to vehicle and this difference results in varying amounts of force applied to stop a passenger depending on the individual vehicle and the type of restraint used. Originally, designs began as lap belts, this was better than nothing but not very effective and could be dangerous. Modern harnesses, which include a shoulder strap as well as a lap belt, work to spread the passenger’s impact more evenly over the body.

Seat Belt Design

Some studies show that wearing a poorly designed restraint leads to injuries which can actually be worse that not wearing one at all. Badly designed or improperly used restraints are known to cause injury and even death. A few years ago, supermodel Nikki Taylor was in a minor traffic accident. The vehicle she was a passenger in hit a light pole at a slow speed. Minimal damage resulted to the vehicle and other passengers. Nikki experienced serious internal injuries from this minor impact; her liver suffered major damage, she was in a coma for an extended period and needed several major surgeries to repair the damage.

Modern vehicles are all equipped with harness type seat belts, leaving only classic cars to continue with the use of lap type belts. These do not provide enough protection and can cause injuries to the pelvis. During a rear end collision, improperly tightened lap type belts can allow the person to become propelled upwards and out of a window. Other common lap type injuries result from head-on collisions. The belts allow the passenger to move down and forward creating a perfect scenario for neck and spinal injury.

Newer harness type belts are much safer than lap type belts as long as you adjust them properly. One of the biggest problems is that since people come in a variety of heights, seat belts must feature the ability to be adjusted to fit a wide range of passengers.  This becomes a problem mainly for those who are either very short or very tall. It is essential to make sure the shoulder harness does not cross the neck area. Fatal incidents of strangulation and hanging are not common but they do occur. The most common, non-life threatening injuries tend to be soft tissue damage to the shoulder and chest. These occur from the force required to stop a body in motion.

The manufacturers of are duty bound to ensure that their product is safe, performs the jobs that it is required to do and does not cause further injury; but keep in mind that belts only work when used correctly. Everyone should be aware that seat belt injuries can be serious.

source; Anthem Chiropractic, Dr. Derek Day –

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