UNDERSTANDING VEHICLE RESTRAINT SYSTEMS
Posted on: Mar. 03, 2017 in Safety, Cars

There was a time when cars didn’t come with the safety features many of us take for granted. But seat belts, airbags and head restraints are now standard features that keep drivers and passengers safer in the case of serious and minor accidents. Think back to your high school physics class. Sir Isaac Newton taught us that objects in motion tend to stay in motion. What does that mean for vehicle restraint systems? Well, if your car abruptly stops, you will continue to stay in motion until something stops you… something like your dashboard, your steering wheel, or your windshield.

Here’s how they work:

Head restraints – New cars must have head restraints in the front seat, though older models still may not come equipped with them. If you’re hit from behind, your head is likely to snap backward. This can cause severe neck injuries. Head restraints stop your head from bending too far backward. As head restraints can vary in height and position, it’s important to make sure yours is directly behind your head and not too far back. Head restraints in any other position will not be effective. Some restraints are adjustable to fit drivers of various sizes. If yours can be adjusted, make sure that it’s in the correct position and it locks in place.

Seat belts – As we mentioned above, seatbelts prevent your body from continuing to move once your car has stopped. If you’ve ever had to hit the brakes hard, you know that feeling of the belt tightening across your chest. That’s the restraint system kicking in to action as your body continues to move forward. In the case of an accident, the belts lock to prevent additional forward motion. Without seatbelts, drivers in crashes can suffer more severe head and chest injuries when their bodies collide with the dashboard, steering wheel, or windshield. It can also prevent ejection from the car in other types of crashes. Seat belts are equally important for all passengers, including animals. People in the back seat can easily be projected into the front of a vehicle during a crash. They can be injured severely or may injury belted passengers.

Airbags – These provide a softer cushioning inside the vehicle to further prevent injury. If your body hits the side or front of the car, the airbag can lessen the severity of the impact. Together with seat belts, they can be very effective safety features. It’s important to note, however, that sitting too close to a steering wheel can cause injury or death if the airbag deploys. You obviously need to reach the gas pedal and brake, but you’ll want to make sure your chest is at least ten inches from the steering wheel.

Every crash is likely to result in some form of injury or soreness. Using the restraints provided can minimize the injury in many situations. In fact, they can save your life.

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