Common Excuses Not to Wear a Seat Belt
- "I’m a good driver."
But can you say the same about everyone else?
- "I’m strong enough to brace myself if I stop suddenly."
Do you think you could catch a 300 pound barbell if it were dropped on you from 20 feet? That is the force of impact of a collision at just 30 miles per hour. Failing to yield the right-of-way to others is the primary cause of approximately 30 percent of bicycle related incidents.
- "I want to be able to escape in a hurry."
The chance of serious injury is 25 times greater if you are thrown from your car than if you remain in your seat. Riding on the wrong side of the road is the cause of approximately another 30 percent of the incidents.
- "I just forget sometimes."
Do you forget to put the key in the ignition? Wearing a seat belt should be a part of your automatic routine in starting your car. Improper turning and failure to obey stop signs and traffic signals combine to be the primary cause of approximately 25 percent of the incidents involving bicyclists.
- "I guess I just do not think seat belts really work."
Modern shoulder and lap belts are designed to be comfortable. Under normal conditions they release to let you move freely, but not in an accident. The force of impact immediately locks your belt in place, restraining you and holding you safely in your seat.
How to Properly Wear Your Seat Belt
- Place the lap belt low and tight across the hips.
- Place the shoulder harness over your collarbone and across the center of your chest, never under your arm. It is illegal for a motorist to disable a shoulder strap if it is part of the vehicle’s manufactured safety system – you must wear both the lap belt and shoulder harness.
- Slide your seat back, as far as possible, away from the steering wheel, dashboard or air bag.
- Pregnant women should limit driving during the last three month since the steering wheel is so close to the abdomen. The lap belt should be placed low across the hips.
- Wear your seat belt on EVERY ride.
Most Common Child Seat Safety Errors
- The harness system is missing, not buckled, is too loose or positioned under the arms.
- The safety belt is not buckled, too loose or is the in wrong belt path.
- The safety seat moves more than one inch forward or laterally.
- The locking clip is needed but not used.
- The child is moved to a booster seat too soon.
- When crossing a street, do not assume a green light or WALK light means it is safe to cross. Look for traffic.
- An infant under age one is facing forward. Or a rear facing infant is in the front seat with a passenger side air bag.
Three Ways to Protect Your Child
- Infant Seat
An infant seat faces rear only and is designed for infants up to one year old and weighing 20 pounds or less. The seat semi-reclines at a 45-degree angle. Teach children about traffic laws, and encourage them to ask questions when they are unsure of what to do.
- Convertible Seat
A convertible seat can be used facing either the rear for infants over one year or the front for older children up to 40 pounds. When the seat faces forward, it should be in an upright position.
- Toddler/Child Seat
Seat faces forward only. It can be used after the child is one year old and weighs 20 pounds or more. Children may use booster seats when they are over 4 years old and weigh over 40 pounds.
How Can I Tell Which Seat Fits My Child?
Consider both the age and the size of your child.
Newborns: fit best in an infant-only seat (labeled up to 20-22 pounds) because the harness can be adjusted snugly. It may be more economical to use a convertible seat from birth, but the slots for the shoulder and crotch straps generally are not as close to the infant’s body.
Babies: must ride rear facing until they are at least one year old to protect the spine, possibly preventing death or lifelong disability. Babies have weak necks with soft bones and stretchy ligaments. In a frontal collision, which is the most common type, a forward-facing baby’s neck may stretch up to two inches, but the spine can only stretch one-fourth of an inch.
Older babies: usually outgrow infant only seats before they are old enough to face forward at one year. As the baby grows, make sure there is at least one inch of space between the top of her head and the top of the safety seat.