May is National Seatbelt Enforcement Month, meaning officers will be out in full force to make sure seatbelt use clicks with drivers across the country. While we're sure our readers' safety habits are sterling, it never hurts to keep important topics like this top of mind. As a little reminder to buckle up next month, our experts at Caliber Collision have buckled down to bring you a lesson seatbelt history, as well as answer a few FAQs to keep you in the know on the road.
Where Seatbelts Got Their Start
It's hard to imagine a time when safety belts didn't come standard. However, modern buckles weren't even invented until the mid 50s, and even then weren't required until almost a decade later. The seatbelt as we know it, the "three-point" version, was patented by Swedish designer Nils Bohlin in 1958. Soon after, the idea of car safety finally gained traction with the general public, and the seatbelt's effectiveness was proven thousands of times over as collision-related injuries began to decline. Bohlin's invention has since been credited with saving more than one million lives across the world. Interestingly enough, the seatbelt's design hasn't changed much since it was invented. Like they say - If it ain't broke, keep clicking it.
Safety By The Numbers
When it comes to measuring just how effective seatbelts are, the numbers speak for themselves. On average, unrestrained passengers account for 48% of vehicle fatalities per year. Through the simple act of wearing a seatbelt, drivers and passengers essentially halve their chances of serious injury while in a car, which makes buckling up a no-brainer. And for those who think short trips aren't worth strapping in - think again. Statistically, the smallest trips tend to have the biggest consequences. That's because most fatal crashes actually happen within 25 miles from home and at speeds of less than 40 mph. That's why, no matter the circumstance, it always pays to ensure every passenger is buckled in safe.
The Right Way To Wear It
As simple as wearing a seatbelt seems, there are plenty of ways both kids and adults side step the rules (for instance: tucking back the shoulder strap). However, improper use can actually do much more harm than good. We've put together a few quick checks you can do before turning the ignition to make sure both yourself and your family are good to go. The shoulder belt should be on your shoulder and across your chest, remove any slack and make sure the lap belt fits snugly across your hips and make sure you're seated upright with your feet on the floor. Keeping your posture in check is a good way to check off any potential problems down the road.
Helping Kids Make The Switch
Transitioning your child from a booster seat and into a seatbelt is an important step for any parent, and there are plenty of questions surrounding the process. The transition usually takes place between 8 and 12 years of age, which means you should keep an eye on the size limits of your booster seat and make the switch as soon as they reach that upper limit. When it comes to instilling good habits, we recommend making a routine out of reminding your kids to buckle up properly before and during the ride, and to never assume they're buckled up. A simple reward system usually gets the job done, like permission to use their electronic devices after a quick safety check. Remember, your own seatbelt habits are even more impactful that your words, so make sure to set an example the kids can look to that will keep the whole family safe.
The Future Of Buckling Up
With technology accelerating by the year, it's surprising that seatbelts have undergone so few changes since 1958. But as we continue down the road, seatbelts have shifted into focus for a few manufacturers looking to further capitalize on safety. We hear there are some pretty amazing developments on the way, like seatbelts that tailor themselves to individual passengers' proportions and posture, as well as belts equipped with their own miniature airbags. With a continued focus on cutting-edge sensors and other safety features, this renaissance of collision prevention is certainly bringing new perspectives on seatbelts, and we're excited to see where that journey takes us.
While May's extra emphasis on seatbelt safety serves as a great reminder, practicing safe driving should be a year-round priority for everyone. That being said, bad luck can happen to anyone, no matter how safe. If hard luck happens to strike even after you've buckled up, our collision repair experts are always at the ready to restore the rhythm of your life and get you back on the road. For more information on seatbelt safety or other features that cater to car enthusiasts, keep it locked here at Caliber. Until next time!