By: Dr. Charles McGrath
Studies have shown that seatbelts reduce serious crash injuries and death by 50%. However, something you may have not known is that seatbelts are the culprit with many of the common injuries sustained during car accidents. Often times a seatbelt induced injury can be traced to an improperly worn seatbelt.
Of course, you are probably already aware that your lap belt should be worn low and snug across your hips. Many times however, due to improper positioning of the seatback this low lap belt position is difficult to achieve.
Your seatback should be positioned more upright versus being too far into a reclined position. If your seatback is reclined, the lap belt will tend to ride up onto your lower abdominal muscles. This can lead to severe abdominal injuries if you were ever involved in an accident.
Seatbelt SafetyLikewise, there is a proper position for the shoulder restraint portion of the seatbelt. It should cross your ribcage and chest, passing over your breastbone and over your shoulder at about the half-way point of your collar bone. Avoid allowing the seatbelt to cross over the lower part of the front or side of your neck. You should also never place the shoulder restraint under your arm or behind your back.
Often times the headrest is positioned too low. This can lead to severe neck injuries, even in low speed read-end collisions. In fact there is significant evidence and research supporting that neck injuries are common even in low speed accidents where there is no damage to either vehicle.
This is often news to most people. In a low-speed, rear-impact collision when there isn’t any vehicle damage, nearly 100% of the force from the collision transmits directly into propelling the struck vehicle forward. This causes a quick, whipping action on the head and neck of the occupants inside the vehicle.
A poorly positioned headrest will make your neck more susceptible to injury. The head restraint should be adjusted so that the top of it is positioned directly behind the top of your head.
If you adjust your seat and use the seatbelt as specified, you will be taking the necessary precautions to minimize injuries as best possible in the unfortunate circumstance you are ever involved in a motor vehicle collision.
One of the most important things to remember if you are ever involved in an accident is to come in as soon as possible for a thorough chiropractic evaluation. Failing to do so could lead to potential long-term, chronic pain symptoms in later months and years. You may not need much or any care at all, but you’d never know if you didn’t at least come in for an examination to rule out potential injuries.