Seatbelt safety: Are you using yours right?

11/17/2020

Posted by: Joshua-Philip Okeafor

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Everyone knows how to use a seatbelt, right? Hmnn, not quite. About seatbelt safety, are you using your seat belts well? Read more now!

Introduction

The best and most important task of all to keep yourself as well as your family members safe when you drive is to ensure they are properly buckled up. This is so especially when the vehicle is in transit. The question is, regarding seatbelt safety, are you using your seatbelt right?

In Nigeria where there are very poor roads and potholes all over, the rate of accidents has risen over time, and the only way to ensure passengers in a car is safe is by ensuring they use a seatbelt and “wear it right”. If seatbelts are not properly worn, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) is sure to punish car users accordingly through the heaviest driving fines, or other means.

There are no two ways to it, both adults and children need it. For the children, they need booster seats until the seatbelt can fit accurately without it.

family-in-car-with-seatbelts

Well fastened seatbelts are an absolute must for your family drives, or even when you're alone

Seatbelt safety: Using seatbelts the right way

How then do we determine if we are using the seatbelts correctly?

For general passenger use

Modern seatbelts are very simple to operate. You should not put the shoulder part of your belt behind the back and just use the lap belt. When you do this, you are liable to encounter the danger of just wearing the lap belt alone. The lap belt part is essential to be cozy and must go over your shoulders and chest.

Also, ensure you keep this belt away from your neck area as it could choke you in the case of an accident.

A driving instructor has proposed that if you are in the passenger seat, the seatbelt needs to run down from the shoulder on your left as well as the lap area before locking it into its proper holding port on the right hip area.

dummies-in-car

Seatbelts protect passengers and drivers in the car always

For drivers use

For the driver, his seatbelt runs from his right shoulder as well as the lap before fixing it in the hip area on the left. Some vehicles are programmed in a way that you cannot tamper with the seatbelts while the car is still moving; they can only be used when the car has halted.

In the case where you are riding in these kinds of cars and you cannot seem to fit the seatbelt well in, you should just adjust it by pulling it from its case till you have your desired size and tightness.

For you to modify the length of the belt to make it cross your laps, carefully adjust the one that runs across the stomach area and shoulder first. A clue to knowing if you are wearing it well is the seatbelt forming the letter “V” 

right-and-wrong-way-to-fasten-seatbelt

Ensure correctness. This driver on the right is not as protected as he imagines

For pregnant women use

If you are pregnant, it is advisable for you to adjust the seatbelt to rest below the stomach and not on the upper part of it. This is so that you will not end up squeezing the baby. Before you begin to drive, ensure it fits you comfortably by pulling it gently. If the belts are loose, it can cause a few broken ribs as well as injuries to your stomach and or your baby, so do take note.

pregnant-women-seatbelt-use-diagram

Carefully follow the diagram above. The right position is the best. The left position is the worst

pregnant-woman-in-car

Please go through the above to again remind you

Seatbelt quick notes

Now look at these quick, highlighted points, as Naijauto.com gives you clues on how to know if you are wearing it correctly:

  • Sit with your back and hips fitted appropriately against the back of your seat. Ensure your seat is positioned uprightly and accurately.
  • Grasp the (tongue) iron-bodied portion firmly and ensure the webbing isn’t twisted. You should insert it right into the buckle space and keep it firm until you hear the click sound.
  • Check very well to confirm if the tautness created to restrain your back and hips is below your waist and very tight. Also, ensure the crossing belt across your shoulder goes through the neck base and shoulder edge. If not patterned like this, change the position of your seatbelt or the height adjuster of the seatbelt.
  •  Ensure your headrest position is intact. Modify the height in a way that your temples are in the middle of the headrest. Some vehicles might not give the option of adjusting the headrest so you have to work your way around it.
  • It is best if all drivers can handle a vehicle having no space in between the seat and the shoulders. If your shoulders as a driver do not touch the seat, you should either shift the car seat forward or just adjust it to place it in a cool upright position.  
  • A seatbelt that is functioning well should be able to keep you at a very safe distance from both the airbag and dashboard. 

Seatbelt notes for kids

For the children, states all over the world have laws that require children, at least to about age 4, to be tucked up in car safety seats specially designed for children. When you live in one of the Nigerian cities with the worst traffic congestion in Nigeria, you should make doubly sure.

bad-child-seatbelt-use

Woah! Child in danger. Know when to use a booster seat for your child

You might not have to install a child seat yourself but you need to know what seats are the safest for individual children, especially when you do drive with them. The following is necessary to be taken note of on children seats:

  • Babies are to ride in a seat with a seatbelt that is rear-facing until they get to age 2 or get to the height limits as well as the upper weight of convertible child-safety seats.
  • This child rear-facing seat should be organized not to be placed at the front seats to avoid any frontal airbag that is active; the consequence of this is that it can cause either death or even serious injuries.
  • When the child has now outgrown these safety seats for children, the child should be buckled with the shoulder safety belts and lap safely positioned in the booster seat. Before children can be qualified to use a safety belt, they would be around 4’9” and that falls within age 8-12. It is very important to note that children under age 13 must sit in the back seat during a drive.

toddler-in-car-seat

Rear-facing car seats are best for kids aged two and below

child-on-booster-seat

A booster seat like this one on the right makes the seatbelt fit better

More about seatbelt use in the video below:

Video: How to Wear a Seat Belt Properly

Summary

In the above article, we hope we have been able to offer little clues on seatbelt safety and how you can use your safety belts well. When you are cruising and jiving to your best Nigerian driving song, always think safety first.

It is very pertinent for every driver or passenger to know that a seatbelt is very important for use during rides and when those occupying the front position use it well, it reduces a lot of accidents on the road; even as much as 45 percent.

>>> You may also see great maintenance tips here on Naijauto.com

Joshua-Philip Okeafor

Joshua-Philip Okeafor

Car buying & selling

Joshua, or KK as friends call him, is a Filmmaker, Writer and Director. A Christian, Joshua is a product of Nigeria’s foremost film school, the National Film Institute, Jos, where he majored in Writing/Directing. Joshua began his writing career at age 18 when an older brother gave him a four page outline of a children novel. Joshua intends to keep writing and directing. His screen name is sometimes Joshua Kalu Ephraim (Writing), and sometimes Joshua KK (directing).

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