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Seatbelts Are Not “One Size Fits All”

Seatbelts have undoubtedly done more to help than to harm; however, they aren’t designed to fit all body types

We all know the importance of wearing your seatbelt in the car. While a seatbelt’s ability to protect you during a crash is irrefutable, they may not be designed to fit your specific body type, according to a team of journalists at CBS News.

Traffic safety authorities stress that a seatbelt should always be worn, but they’re not a “one size fits all” precaution. Researchers are currently working to design safety belts that can adjust to an individual’s biometric measurements (height, weight, torso length) to produce a belt that is user-specific, and thus more secure.

In the event of an accident, current safety belts are designed to withstand the force necessary to keep an average 40-year-old man in his seat. Obviously, only a fraction of the country’s population has the height, weight, and physique of the average American 40-year old male—200 pounds, 5 feet and 9 inches, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 29.5.

This design could be bad news for people with a smaller stature, especially older women who are more susceptible to bone health issues, and children with developing bones.

Correct Usage and Future Improvements

Authorities say that it is important to wear seatbelts as designed with the belt across your lap and the diagonal strap resting on your shoulder. This is the correct way to wear your belt. The diagonal strap should fall on your clavicle (collarbone) and not your ribs. The clavicle is a stronger bone than your ribs and is more protective of your vital organs if it were to break. Unfortunately, sometimes the belt doesn’t fit ideally.

Currently, seatbelt adjusters are available for purchase at major retailers. These seatbelt adjusters attach to the belt and correct the diagonal strap so that it rests on your shoulder, not the neck or ribs.

However, researchers would like to automate this process in future car models. They are working to develop a seatbelt that can automatically adjust to the driver or passenger, without the need to purchase an attachment. This is an interesting idea that could dramatically reduce the number of seatbelt-induced injuries.

Future Outlooks

Even the most careful drivers cannot avoid all accidents. Therefore, you should take care in wearing your seatbelt every time you are in a vehicle. The future shows promise of better vehicle safety features. Be sure you’re there to see it.