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The seat belt saves you no matter whether you travel in the front seat or in the rear seat, in a taxi or in a bus. So always fasten the seat belt.

Traffic accident investigation boards have estimated that approximately one in three people in fatal road accidents in 2019 would have survived if they had worn their seat belts. The Finnish Crash Data Institute’s annual reports (Opens in a new window) also indicate that the use of the seat belt would have prevented or mitigated injuries.

Males aged 15–24 use seat belts the least. According to a 2014 study by the National Institute for Health and Welfare, 94% of males and 98.2% of females aged 15–24 reported using a seat belt in the front seat. 88.6% of young males and 93.3% of females reported wearing a seat belt in the back seat.

The guardian or custodian of a child under 15 years of age, travelling in the same car, is responsible for the use of a seat belt or safety device. If the guardian is not on board, the driver of the car is responsible for the use of the seat belt for persons under 15 years of age. A fixed fine may be imposed for not using the seat belt or other safety device.

The seat belt saves also at low speeds

A correctly fastened seat belt holds a person in their seat and prevents them from hitting against the hard interior parts of the vehicle in the event of a collision. A three-point belt that goes from the shoulder to the waist and across the hips is the most common type of seat belt.

In an accident, collision shocks can be divided into three phases: the first to collide is the car, then the person and finally the person’s internal organs. The stretchy fabric of the seat belt evenly distributes the forces resulting from the deceleration to the most stress-resistant parts of the body.

The seat belt is at its best when the vehicle has a head-on collision or rolls over. The seat belt is very useful also in side impacts and rear-end collisions. In collisions where the other party is much larger in mass or where the impact speed is considerable, a seat belt cannot always save the person.

In a collision at a speed of up to 7 km/h, an adult may be able to prevent impact with the steering wheel, dashboard or backrest by hand. In collisions at urban speeds (50 km/h), the impact weight of a person is already 40 times higher, so it is not possible to prevent impact or ejection from the vehicle using the arms.

A properly installed headrest is used to prevent neck injury. The support must be at the same height and as close as possible to the head. This means that the backrest is placed as upright as possible and the driver sits with their back against the backrest.

A person not wearing a seat belt also endangers others in the car

At urban speeds, the risk of personal injury to a passenger in the back seat who is not wearing a seat belt may be three times higher in a collision than the risk of injury to a person with the seat belt fastened. A person travelling in the rear seat without a seat belt may cause a five-fold risk of death to the front seat passenger who has the seat belt fastened.

The seat belt pre-tensioner, which is already standard equipment, tightens the seat belt more in the event of a collision. In this case, the person wearing the belt will remain in place better and the risk of hitting the steering wheel will be reduced. The protection effect of the airbag is also improved.

Seat belt locks have proven to be very reliable. The seat belt can also be equipped with an emergency cutter device, the so-called strap cutter. The seat belt must be replaced when it has been in use in an accident, is showing signs of severe wear or is otherwise broken.

A person may travel without a seat belt only if a physician has exempted them from the use of the belt on the basis of an illness. The exemption can also be granted on the basis of work tasks, for example in short-term delivery and collection traffic. The condition is that the distance travelled at a time must not exceed 100 m and that the seat belt must cause serious impairment.

Use the seat belt also on the bus

The obligation to use seat belts in buses and coaches entered into force in 2006. The amendment to the Road Traffic Act introduced the provisions of the Seat Belt Directive (2003/20/EC). At present, a seat belt or other restraint must be used in all buses, if fitted on the seat.

It has been mandatory to equip new buses (M3) with seat belts on all seats since 1999. However, this requirement does not apply to buses designed for urban transport with places for standing passengers.

According to a survey conducted by the Finnish Road Safety Council in 2015, half of the passengers travelling by bus reported that they always or almost always wear a seat belt. Those not wearing the seat belt indicated as their reasons being unaccustomed to the use of the belt in the bus, difficulty or forgetting.