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Is your seat belt truly safe?

Seat belt laws have been in effect across the nation for many years. In 2015, seat belts saved the lives of approximately 14,000 people that were involved in car accidents. However, seat belts are not custom made for each driver. In general, car manufacturers install seat belts that can protect the average 40-year-old male. This begs the question, if you do not fit the "average 40-year-old man" mold, is your seat belt truly safe? Can it actually do more harm than good if you are involved in a car accident?

If you are smaller, or more fragile, than the specifications manufacturers use to design seat belts, you might suffer more severe injuries in what would otherwise be a minor accident. While the belt may hold your lower body in place, the cross-strap may be completely useless.

Seat belt limitations

This means that if you are in an accident, part of your body may be held in place while your head, neck and back are subjected to the full force of the impact. This can result in very serious spinal and neck injuries, or even a traumatic brain injury. With the industry's advances in technology, such as self-driving cars, many people are wondering why they cannot design a seat belt that will automatically adjust to the frame of each individual that sits in the car.

While passengers and drivers who are young or smaller-framed can suffer serious injuries due to ill-fitting seat belts, the elderly are the largest demographic affected by seat belt standards the manufacturers are using. Since the elderly are generally more fragile due to loss of muscle mass and bone density, an accident that may cause bumps and bruises to a middle-aged driver, can actually result in bone fractures.

Advancements needed

With 43 million drivers over the age of 65, it is time for the car industry to take a step in the right direction and make advancements in seat belt technology. However, while we are waiting for these advancements to materialize, there are things you can do make your seat belt more effective.

Be sure to adjust your seat belt so that it lays across your clavicle. Since this bone is much stronger than your ribs, it is more likely to handle the force of an impact. Also, adjust your seat so that you are 10 to 12 inches away from the vehicle's airbag. This will increase the effectiveness of the seat belt and the air bag in case you are in an accident. Use these two tips to increase the safety of your passengers as well.

Since car accidents can happen when we least expect them, it is important to always take safety precautions and wear your seat belt. 

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