TO: Vehicle Passengers
SUBJECT: Remodeling Seat Belts to be Safer

Buckle up! Itís the law. But does it fit properly? When I get in the car, my mom
turns the key and the automatic shoulder belt moves back and snaps into place. But it isnít
the safest place. I try adjusting it and moving the seat back and forth, but it still doesnít
fit. So I unfasten it. If it is a law that American citizens of states have to wear a seat belt,
then the seat belt should at least be as safe as it could possibly be.
According to the DeKalb Police Star Team, seat belt usage is currently at 68%.
Most automobile passengers feel safer when wearing a seat belt. Seat belts have saved the
lives of an estimated 65,290 passenger vehicle occupants in the U.S. over the age of four
in 1982 through 1994 according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Therefore,
the use of seat belts is very important. But seat belts can also cause injuries. Some
incidents have been reported that the lap belt which crosses over the passengerís waist can
cause damage to the intestines or lower organs. The shoulder belt that crosses over the
passengerís chest has also been reported to cause neck problems or whiplash. There are
also problems reported concerning the way seat belts are made.
Besides the seat belt itself causing harm, they way it is made can cause injury.
Most seat belts are designed to lock when jerked, but when I tested a few, they extended
completely. The passenger would hit their head on the dash if hit from behind, even with
the seat moved all the way back. There are similar issues with materials seat belts are
made from.
Seat belts should also be remodeled is because the seat belt materials are not made
as safe as they could be. In most newer model cars, the buckle on the seat belt is plastic.
If in an accident and the car catches on fire, the latch of the seat belt could possibly melt
before you are able to release it. Therefore, you could be trapped in a burning car.
Another similar incident would be in a collision accident.
When a driver realizes the vehicle is out of control the first reaction is usually
panic. When a person is in a panicking state, they often canít think fast enough to get the
seat belt unfastened. If a driver is in an accident where they are hit from the driverís side,
it is usually better if they are not belted. If the driver is not wearing the seat belt they
would be thrown to the other side. But if they are trapped in the seat belt they could be
critically injured or even killed. So what should be done?
There are several accessories that can be purchased to make a belt more
comfortable or a better fit, but these accessories are often a hassle. Also, who wants to
pay to have a seat belt fitted when they could just unfasten it? Since not wearing a ďsafety
beltĒ is illegal but wearing one can sometimes be unsafe, I come to my conclusion.
Because it is a law in 49 states that citizens have to wear seat belts, they should be
remodeled to be safer. Take action; contact you car dealership on how you feel about the
safety of your car seat belts.











Sources:



DeKalb Police Star Team. Star Team Encourages and Enforces Seat Belt Usage [Online].
Available: http://usww.com/homepage/starteam/seatble1.html, 20 September 1999

MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). MADD Statistics: Safety Belts [Online].
Available: http://www.madd.org/stats/stat_seatbelts.shtml, 22 September 1999