Seat-belt Safety 101

Every Tom, Dick, and Harry knows they have to use their seat belt, even if they are among the 13 percent of people who don’t frequently buckle up.
However, let’s be straightforward: Just because you always wear your seat belt doesn’t mean it is worn correctly. Where does the lap belt cross your body? How much slack is in the shoulder harness? What about securing kids who have outgrown a car seat or booster seat? Or restraining pets that are along for the ride?
Many people simply fasten their seat belts and go, without giving these questions another thought. But, having the right fit can make a big difference when it comes to protection. Study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifies that proper seat belt usage reduces serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.
Check out these tips, and, the next time you hop in the car, take a closer look at how you’re buckling up.
Seat Belt Tips for Adults
The shoulder harness should be worn across the shoulder and chest with minimal slack. Never wear it behind your back or under your arm; improper seat belt use could essentially contribute to serious internal injuries in a crash. The lap belt should be snug and low across your hips. And, remember, while air bags offer additional protection, they are not a substitute for seat belts. For example, in a rollover crash, an air bag won’t keep you in your seat.
For pregnant women, secure the lap belt securely under your bump and across your hips. The shoulder harness should go across your chest , away from the neck, and to the side of your belly, not across it.
Car Safety for Kids
There’s a lot of material available on car seats and booster seats. But, sometimes it’s hard to figure out just when your child is ready to get out of the booster seat and into a seat belt. First things first, follow your state’s guidelines. In general, kids should remain in a booster seat until they are big enough to fit properly into a seat belt. That means children who meet the following conditions:
• Able to keep their backs against the vehicle seat
• Able to keep their knees naturally bent over the edge of the vehicle seat
• Able to keep their feet flat on the floor
Keep in mind that the belt must fit snugly across the upper thighs (not the stomach), and the shoulder harness should lie snug across the shoulder and the chest (not the neck or face).
Securing Pets While Traveling
Some states have laws against transporting pets unsecured in the driver’s lap or the bed of a truck, but most do not. However, it is recommended to restrain your pets while they ride with you. There are a number of reasons for this. Loose pets can interfere with the operation of the vehicle by posing a distraction, obstructing vision or even physically impeding the driver. And, an unsecured pet, like any other object in the vehicle, can cause injury by hitting passengers in the event of a crash.
Seat Belt Usage in Taxis, Buses and Limos
The best rule of thumb to follow is this: If there’s a seat belt available, use it. Several high-profile incidents over the past several years have shown just how dangerous it can be to ride in the back of a limousine or taxi without wearing a restraint. Laws vary from state to state, but, just like when you’re driving your own car or riding with a friend, wearing a seat belt is always a good idea.
We all comprehend the benefits of wearing seat belts, so keep buckling up. And, make a real effort to wear them properly, too, so you get the strongest possible protection for you and your loved ones.

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