Seatbelts work when used correctly

Only people who have a medical condition determined by a physician are exempted from the requirement to wear a seatbelt. Certain exemptions may also be granted on the grounds of work duties, such as short-duration driving to distribute or pick up goods. In such cases, the prerequisite is that the distance driven must be less than 100 metres and the use of a seatbelt must lead to a considerable disadvantage.

Among different demographic groups, seatbelt use is lowest among men aged 15 to 24 years. Estimates based on road accident statistics indicate that nearly one out of three fatalities could have been avoided by using a seatbelt. In 2011,
seatbelts saved the lives of 23 people and mitigated the injuries of a further 56 accident victims.

The parent or guardian is responsible for the seatbelt use of a child under 15 years of age. If the child’s parent or guardian is not present, the driver of the vehicle is responsible for seatbelt use. Failure to use a seatbelt may result in a fixed fine.

Seatbelts in accidents

A properly secured seatbelt keeps the passenger in the seat, preventing him or her from slamming into the hard interior structures of the vehicle in the event of a collision. The most typical seatbelt type is the three-point seatbelt across the lap and chest.

A car accident involves three collision impacts: first the car collides, then the person, and finally the internal organs of the person. The stretching seatbelt fabric divides the forces resulting from slowing down equally to those parts of the body that can best endure the strain.

A seatbelt tightener, which is considered standard equipment in modern vehicles, tightens the seatbelt in a collision. This keeps the person more tightly in place and reduces the risk of hitting the steering wheel. It also improves the protective effect of an airbag.

Seatbelts are most effective in frontal collisions and when the car spins on its roof.

Seatbelts are also very useful in side and rear impacts. However, the seatbelt is not always enough to save a person’s life in accidents involving a collision with a substantially heavier object or high speed.

If an accident occurs at a speed of no more than 7 km/h, an adult may be able to use his or her arms and hands to prevent being slammed into the steering wheel, dashboard or front seat. In accidents involving urban area speeds (50 km/h), the collision weight of a person is 40-fold, meaning that using the arms and hands to prevent being slammed into the interior of the car or being thrown out of the vehicle is not possible.

The opening mechanisms of seatbelts perform very well in different situations.  A seatbelt may also be equipped with an emergency cutting device, i.e. a seatbelt cutter. A seatbelt must be replaced if it has been used in an accident, shows significant signs of wear, or is damaged in some other way.

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