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March 3, 2015

Seat Belt Safety
Why are some carmakers announcing plans to cut back on seat belt effectiveness?

They say it's for your added safety. Hey, what can I tell you? These are your tax and car dollars at work. A lot of extensive (and expensive) research has gone into developing new restraint parameters to protect your shoulders, chest, belly and hips from the attack of the brutal belts.

Thereís a holy trinity of safety that works in conjunction with your carís basic structure. Its members include:
  • Shoulder/lap belts
  • Head restraints
  • Airbags
The belts get the biggest job. They're expected to hold you in place so you won't get smashed against the wheel, the dash or the windshield. (Obviously, the belts do a very important job.) In addition, lap/shoulder belts keep your body in place within the car's safety cage as the crush zone of the car buckles and bends, absorbing energy from the crash.

Shoulder belts are wound on inertia reels that allow your upper body to move around during normal driving. But they lock up instantly during hard braking or in a crash. Even so, belt webbing gives a bit, so belts cannot always prevent your head and chest from being thrown violently into the steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield in a serious frontal crash.

Since airbags supply additional upper body restraint and spread crash forces across the upper body rather than localizing them (as belts do), the government and automakers have decided to lessen the force limits on new lap/shoulder belts.

In other words, you're going to be getting a kinder, gentler safety restraint.

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