.Seat BeltsToday, seat belts are an accepted part of routine vehicle operation for millions of drivers and passengers. But the modern three-point automotive seat belt has only been around since 1959 - and it's saved thousands of lives since its introduction.The three-point seat belt was the brainchild of Swedish aircraft engineer Nils Ivar Bohlin, who, ironically, spent the early years of his career designing aircraft ejector seats. He designed the belt as a combination lap and diagonal belt positioned across the pelvic and rib cage.Today's seat belts combine Bohlin's strong three-point harness with a relatively simple pendulum and ratchet mechanism that locks the belt in sudden-stop situations. This design helps improve the comfort of belt wearers, as the belt is not locked in position under normal operation.As with any safety system, seat belt performance is dependent on proper use and fit. If the belt is not positioned correctly on the vehicle occupant's body, it can fail to provide adequate safety in the event of a collision or rapid deceleration. How to Properly Adjust Your Safety Belt:Always wear your seat belt, and insist that your passengers do the same. One non-restrained passenger can seriously injure others in the vehicle.Seat belts help prevent internal injuries by spreading the force of a collision across two of the human body's strongest areas: the pelvis and upper chest.
To ensure the proper distribution of force, the lap belt should be positioned across the upper thighs, and the diagonal belt across the chest.Never slip the diagonal belt behind your body - the lap belt alone cannot prevent you from being thrown forward or out of the vehicle. Use the lap belt at all times, as well. Without this restraint, your body would be thrown under the diagonal belt and into the dashboard or steering wheel.Make sure your belt fits snugly against your body.
If it is too loose, you could be injured by being thrown against the belt itself.If your seat belts don't seem to operate correctly, or you cannot adequately adjust them, return the car to a dealership or qualified repair shop for assistance.If your vehicle is fitted only with lap belts (pre-1974 models), contact a dealership for an upgrade to a three-point harness. Aftermarket kits are available for many vehicle makes and models. Facts:In 2003, seat belts saved an estimated 14,903 lives of passenger vehicle occupants over 4 years old. (Source:, 2005)In 2003, 56 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts.
(Source:, 2005)In 2003, 73 percent of restrained passenger vehicle occupants who were involved in fatal crashes survived. Forty-two percent of those not restrained survived. (Source:, 2005) Air BagsAutomotive air bags are designed to help save lives. They are not, however, the sole source of protection to rely on while driving.Air bags are supplemental passenger restraint systems designed to cushion the contact between a driver and the steering wheel, dashboard and, in some cars, vehicle doors. Air bags do not restrain the passenger in the seat, and they do not prevent backseat passengers from being thrown forward during a front-end collision.Air bags save lives, but they do not reduce the importance of seat belt use. Because air bags deploy at explosive speeds, they can harm an unrestrained person — not using a seat belt or restraint can reduce air bag effectiveness due to the increase in the potentially damaging impact force between the vehicle occupant and the deploying air bag.To practice good air bag safety, place children 12 years and under in the rear seat, with seat belts securely fastened. If a child is riding in the front seat when an airbag deploys, the impact potentially could be fatal.
Air Bag Safety Facts:. Air bags have saved the lives of 17,130 people, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.(Source:, 2005). Seventy-one percent of cars and light trucks on U.S. Roads have driver air bags. (Source:, 2005). One million new vehicles with air bags are sold each month. (Source:, 2005)Head RestraintsNeck injuries are reported by drivers in more than one in five rear-impact crashes.
Although studies show that proper adjustment of a head restraint can prevent neck injuries, many drivers don't take the time — or don't know how — to adjust their head restraints. Five Steps to Adjust Your Head RestraintNext time you get in the car, follow these simple steps to help protect yourself from neck injuries:. Whether you're the driver or passenger, check out your head restraint before getting into the car. Get to know how it works. Does it adjust up and down? Does it tilt? Does it lock into place?
Knowing how your head restraint works will help you find the best position for you. Once you're in the car, be sure your seat back is in an upright and comfortable driving or sitting position. Face forward and reach behind you to adjust the height of your head restraint. In the optimal position, the top of the head restraint should be as high as the top of your head and no lower than 2.5 inches below the top of your head.
If your restraint locks into position, make sure it is locked in after you've found the right height for you. Still facing forward, feel how close the head restraint is to your head. In the optimal position, it should be as close as possible to the back of your head, no farther than 2.5 inches away. If your restraint tilts, this can help you find the right distance. Adjusting the height of your seat can help, too. To be sure you've positioned your head restraint properly, you or someone in the car with you can use a ruler to measure the height and distance from your head.Not all adjustable head restraints can be locked into place or positioned properly for all drivers. In these cases, do everything you can to protect yourself, such as adjusting your seat back to achieve proper head restraint position.
Facts About Head Restraints and Neck Injuries. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety began head restraint testing in 1995 and found only 5 seats with good geometry. ( 2004). In 2004, the IIHS found 80 percent of head restraints in 2004 models to have good or acceptable geometry.
Air Bag DeploymentGenerally, when there is a moderate to severe crash, a signal is sent from the air bag system's electronic control unit to an inflator within the air bag module. An igniter in the inflator starts a chemical reaction that produces a harmless gas, which inflates the air bag within the blink of an eye – or less than 1/20th of a second.
Because air bags deploy very rapidly, serious or sometimes fatal injuries can occur if the driver or passenger is too close to – or comes in direct contact with – the air bag when it first begins to deploy. Side Air BagsSide-impact air bags inflate even more quickly since there is less space between the driver or passengers and the striking object, whether the interior of the vehicle, another vehicle, a tree, or a pole. Frontal Air BagsSitting as far back from the steering wheel or dashboard as possible and using seat belts help prevent drivers and passengers from being 'too close' to a deploying frontal air bag. This is why rear-facing car seats should not be placed in front of an active air bag, and children under 13 should be seated in the back seat.Stay Protected: Replace Used Air Bags After a CrashAir bags can only deploy once, so make sure you replace used air bags right away after a crash, only at an authorized repair center, and before you drive the vehicle again.
You count on your air bag to protect you and others in your vehicle in the event of a crash. If your vehicle is equipped with a counterfeit air bag, there is cause for concern. Counterfeit air bags have been shown to consistently malfunction in ways that range from non-deployment to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment.NHTSA has identified certain vehicle makes and models that may have these air bags. We believe this issue affects less than 0.1 percent of the U.S. Vehicle fleet.Consumers whose vehicles have been in a crash and who have replaced their air bags by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership within the past three years or who have purchased a replacement air bag online should contact the call center established by their auto manufacturer to have their vehicle inspected at their own expense and their air bag replaced if necessary. The responsibility for replacing a counterfeit air bag will vary depending on the circumstances around the original installation of the part.If you are concerned and have an air bag that was replaced at a repair shop recommended by your insurance company, we recommend that you contact your insurance company.
If you purchased a counterfeit air bag from eBay, it may be covered by that company’s “Buyer Protection” program. Contact center. You may also wish to contact your local Consumer Protection Agency or the appropriate State Office of the Attorney General to determine your rights under the law, and the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint. There are few circumstances under which the risk of sitting in front of an active frontal air bag outweigh the safety benefits. Under these circumstances, NHTSA will authorize the installation of an air bag ON-OFF switch. Authorization will be granted under the following four circumstances:.
A rear-facing infant restraint must be placed in the front seat of a vehicle because there is no rear seat or the rear seat is too small for the child restraint. (For the passenger air bag only.). A child under 13 years of age must ride in the front seat because the child has a condition that requires frequent medical monitoring in the front seat. (For the passenger air bag only.). An individual with a medical condition is safer if the frontal air bag is turned off.
While Driving, If You Need To Use Your Cell Phone, _________.
A written statement from a physician must accompany each request based on a medical condition unless the request is based on a medical condition for which the recommends deactivation. (For driver and/or passenger frontal air bag as appropriate.). A driver must sit within a few inches of the air bag, typically because she or he is of extremely small stature (i.e., 4 feet 6 inches or less). (For the driver frontal air bag only.)In those instances where an ON-OFF switch is not made for a particular vehicle, NHTSA will consider allowing an air bag to be deactivated. The approval process for deactivation is more rigorous because, while an ON-OFF switch allows the driver or passenger frontal air bag to be turned on and off in appropriate circumstances, deactivation is not so flexible.
Once deactivated, an air bag cannot be easily activated for those drivers or passengers who may need it. ON-OFF Switch/DeactivationOnly authorized dealers and repair shops can install ON-OFF switches and can do so only with an authorization letter from NHTSA. The activation of an air bag in a crash is dependent on several important factors including: the characteristics of the crash (e.g., speed, other vehicles involved, impact direction); the individual vehicle air bag system's design strategy; and the crash sensor locations. Air bags are not intended to deploy in all crashes. There may be circumstances when an air bag does not deploy.
Some possible examples follow:. The crash conditions may be sufficiently moderate where an air bag would not be needed to protect an occupant wearing a seat belt.
All light vehicles (passenger cars and light-duty trucks) must meet specific safety performance criteria for dummies representing 12-month-old infants, 3-year-old toddlers, 6-year-old children, and small-stature women.For those manufacturers electing to suppress (not deploy) an air bag for an infant or child in all crashes, the occupant-sensing devices in their advanced frontal air bag systems have been tested with child-sized dummies, representing an infant in a child safety seat and small children in and out of child safety seats, to ensure that the air bag will turn itself off. Frontal air bags have come a long way since they first appeared in the 1980s. Although those older air bags saved thousands of lives, they deployed the same way for every driver and passenger, causing injury and in some rare cases even death to children, small adults, and any unbelted occupants positioned too close to the air bag as it deployed. Today's advanced frontal air bags are better able to protect drivers and front seat passengers by using sophisticated sensing systems to determine whether, when and how much to deploy. NHTSA demonstrates its commitment to the safe use and manufacture of air bags by:. Providing consumers information about air bags and how they work. Testing and providing guidance on the risks of counterfeit and defective air bags.
Overseeing the compliance of automakers and suppliers with safety standards and safety recall requirements for defects and non-compliances. Informing the public about safety defects and recalls. Urging vehicle owners with recalled air bags to immediately get their air bags replaced by a dealer.In the affecting millions of U.S. Vehicles, NHTSA ordered automakers to accelerate their repair programs to fix all affected vehicles as quickly as possible.
This included phasing and prioritizing when the replacement parts are required to be available to consumers since it was not possible for all of the replacement parts to be available right away and some vehicles were at much higher risk of a dangerous air bag explosion than others.