When it comes to improvements in driver safety then few inventions have done more than the introduction of both seat belts and airbags into vehicles. Whilst some people will argue that such devices are unnecessary or make vehicles less safe, they are wrong. Part of what contributes to this image is the fact that drivers with these devices can drive more recklessly thinking they are safer. This is what causes problems. It can be argued that the best thing that can be done to improve driver safety is to place a large spike in the centre of the steering wheel as this would cause drivers to behave so safely there would be no accidents.
What Does a Seat Belt Do?
The purpose of a seat belt is to prevent spinal trauma during a crash or collision. It also prevents there being a significant impact to the spine in the event of an accident. Drivers that don’t use a seat belt risk becoming a projectile or sustaining a force trauma to the spine in an accident. Between 2004 and 2008 seat belts helped to save some 75,000 lives and statistics show that wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of injury during a collision by around 50%. All drivers and passengers should be encouraged to wear seat belts, no matter where they are sat in the car. If a seat belt doesn’t fit a person correctly, such as in the case of children then booster seats should be used to ensure that they are in the correct position for the seat belt to be effective.
What Do Airbags Do?
Airbags are designed to provide extra cushioning in a vehicle in the event of a collision. They are designed to deploy when a collision occurs and will be deployed between occupants of the car and the hard surfaces of the vehicle. The most common of airbags is the driver’s side airbag which is normally located in the steering wheel. This is designed to protect a driver from impacting their head on the steering wheel during a collision. Whilst an airbag deploying may cause superficial injuries, they are a lot safer than injuries that can occur without them. Modern vehicles also have passenger-side airbags and side airbags as well to provide all-round cushioning for both drivers and passengers. What you should be aware though is that airbags can cause problems for children under 12 years old so they should always be correctly restrained in the rear of the vehicle.
It is a common myth that airbags will not deploy if the person is not wearing the seatbelt. This is untrue. Airbags are designed to deploy independent of seatbelt status. It is also said that in vehicles such as SUVs and trucks then seat belts are not needed due to the extra safety that these vehicles provide. This is also incorrect as they are designed to prevent occupants from moving around inside the vehicle and so should always be used wherever they are fitted.