Car seats and seat belts are critical for all vehicle occupants

Safety in the car is a top priority for anyone who rides in one. From newborns to senior citizens, everyone who is in a vehicle while it is in motion should have on a seat belt. It is imperative that these are used properly because incorrect usage can mean that there are extensive injuries during a crash.

Car seats and seat belts help to prevent occupants of a vehicle from being thrown around the car or out of the car when there is a wreck. There is a slight risk that the seat belt or harness will cause injuries in a crash. Even when they do cause a problem, it is usually a much less serious injury than what would happen without it.

Seat belt and harness designs

These items are carefully designed to distribute the force of the crash to areas of the body that can handle it. In the case of the seat belt for adults and older children, the stronger areas are the hips and the shoulders, which is where the seat belt will focus the force. In babies and toddlers, by evenly distributing the force between both hips and shoulders, as well as some force on the chest, the baby faces a lesser chance of injury.

Car seat harnesses and seat belts also help to protect the spinal cord, neck and head from injury. If a person's body was flung around the vehicle, they can hit their head on something or harm the spinal cord or neck. This is why having babies in rear facing car seats is important. The entire back, neck and head area is stabilized and protected.

Only effective when used as intended

It is imperative that a child is strapped into the car seat properly and that seat belts are used correctly. For the babies in car seats, the harness must be tight with only a finger width of space between the harness and the baby. The clip to hold the straps together must be placed at chest level to reduce the chance of internal injuries.

The shoulder belt should be directly across the shoulder. It should cross the chest diagonally. It is never appropriate to place it beneath an arm or behind the back. The lap belt must be across the hips instead of up over the abdomen. The seat belt should be snug and without slack so it can keep the occupant secured in a crash.

There is a chance that victims will suffer an injury in a crash even if they are wearing a seat belt or placed in a car seat correctly. These individuals might opt to pursue a claim for compensation that holds the liable party accountable for the damages suffered in the wreck.

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