NHTSA seatbelt-safety photo unwittingly highlights an extra danger

Don’t just fasten your seatbelt… If you don’t want internal injuries, THINK!

A seatbelt photo used by NHTSA which also highlights the danger of the belt being slack, even though that is not mentioned.

Very appropriately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA], here in the USA, has published a reminder on Facebook about always buckling your seat belt. However, the photograph itself — quite possibly sourced from a picture agency where the photographers know nothing at all about the technicalities of safety — actually highlights an additional danger!

In the photograph, it is easy to see that the waistband section of the seatbelt is not tight, and if it is fastened like this and is not corrected, the friction of the belt against the clothing is likely to keep it slack.

Does this really matter?

Yes, it really does matter.  In a crash, any slackness in a seatbelt allows your body to move much further than you might imagine.  This means that when you do eventually hit against the belt, a violent shock is transferred into your body and the result can be dangerous internal injuries.

A similar outcome can happen to people wearing bulky winter clothing inside their seatbelt, and completely unnecessary, severe injuries can occur.

To avoid injuries from a seatbelt that is simply loose, as in the photograph, all you need do is get into the habit of buckling the belt then pulling firmly upwards on the diagonal strap that goes across your chest, every time, and this will always remove slack from the waistband part of the belt.

In winter, always unfasten bulky jackets once you are in the car, and pull the sides of the jacket out of the way so that the seatbelt is not over the top of it.

For a bulky sweater or similar, pull it up slightly so that the waistband part of the seatbelt is not over the sweater.

In all cases, the waistband part of the belt should be low, over your hips, not across your abdomen.

That little bit of extra care can add greatly to your safety.  It’s just a case of developing a good habit.

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