Seat Belt Safety Myths

There are a lot of myths about seat belt safety and the use of seat belt in a motor vehicle. Below are some of the most common myths that are untrue about seat belt safety.

Myth #1
People often say they feel they’d have a better chance of survival if they’re thrown clear of the vehicle.

The truth is you’re far more likely to be killed by being thrown halfway through the windshield and then the vehicle rolling on you as you’re partially ejected. The concept of being thrown clear of a vehicle simply doesn’t apply due to the size of the human body and the relatively small openings from which people believe they will be “thrown clear.”

Myth #2
I only wear my seatbelt on the highway. When I’m making a short trip to the corner store I don’t bother buckling up.

The fact of the matter is most car collisions occur less than 65 kilometres per hour. As well, most fatal accidents occur within 40 kilometres of home. Finally, hitting a solid object such as a light post – because all of the forces of the collision are absorbed in a very small narrow area – is catastrophic as the light post acts like a knife “cutting through butter”.  Even on a short trip to the grocery store you will pass many dangerous light posts.

Myth #3
My car has airbags so I don’t need seatbelts.

Seatbelts and airbags are engineered to work together. Most people don’t realize that an airbag must deploy at a very high speed, approximately 300 km/h, in order to fully deploy before the movement of the people inside occurs. Being thrown into an inflating airbag that is inflating at 300 km/h will result in a fatality or, at a minimum, a serious brain injury.

Myth #4

My seat belt will cause me to be trapped in the vehicle.
This lie is popular with people who live in coastal areas as they say if they’re thrown into the ocean or river, they don’t want to be trapped in by their seatbelt.

The reality is this occurs in less than one-half percent of all crashes. As well, the possibility of being trapped by a seatbelt that doesn’t release when you press the button even after a collision is far less than being injured if you’re not wearing your seatbelt.

Myth #5
I’m strong enough to brace myself against the steering wheel or dashboard in a collision.

The reality is that a sudden deceleration of a car at even 50 km/h will transform the mass of an unbelted 160-pound person into 12 tons! Furthermore, your reaction time will be far slower than the speed of the crash and you simply won’t have time to brace yourself.

Seatbelts are the number-one safety device despite all the recent advances in motor-vehicle safety. So not wearing a seatbelt will result in a far more serious injury or a fatality. Furthermore the civil courts in Alberta consider not wearing a seatbelt to be contributory negligence. In other words if you don’t wear a seatbelt even if someone else crashes into you and they’re at fault, the courts will find you contributed to your injuries by not wearing your own seatbelt and reduce your damages by anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent.

Brent L. Handel, Q.C.