What are seat belts?
Seat belts, also known as safety belts, are safety devices meant for protecting the passenger from damage that can occur from the positional shift which is caused by a collision. The two benefits a seat belt offers are
- Keep the passenger from moving forward and hitting the steering wheel or the windshield, or in some cases being thrown out of the car,
- Position the passenger in the right place for maximum protection by the airbag.
The use of a seat belt is mandatory in most countries and according to research, seat belts increasingly save the number of lives every year. The different kinds of seat belts are as follows.
This is an adjustable strap that goes over the waist. Commonly seen in old vehicles and seen today in some vehicles in the middle seat of the rear row. This can be seen also in the passenger seats of an aircraft.
Lap and sash
This strap goes only over the shoulder. The benefit of this seat belt is highly limited because there are chances for it to slip away in a crash. Some vehicles have automatic belts which extend over the shoulder when the car is started. The waist belt is separate and has to be fastened manually. Since the airbag has become mandatory in many countries, these seat belts have fallen out of favor.
Similar to the lap shoulder belt, but both the lap belt and the shoulder belt form a single webbing. Both the Lap and Sash and the three-point belts aim at distributing the force encountered by the body during a crash to the rigid parts of the body like shoulder, chest and the pelvis. This is the standard for road cars.
The belt in seat belt is a three point belt where the shoulder belt instead of attaching to the b pillar, attaches to the back rest of the seat. This system of seat belt is claimed to be safer in case of a rollover especially with children, though there are sources that dispute this claim.
This is an experimental design from Ford, where the suspenders are attached to the back rest of the car and not to the frame.
Inflatable Safety Belts
The seat belts are inflatable and this happens when there is a collision. This is designed to provide extra protection in a crash.
Five-point harnesses are much safer than other belts but are restrictive compared to the others.
It is safer but restricts more than any other seat type of belts. They are commonly fitted in race cars where safety is always wanting. The lap part is connected to a belt that runs between the legs and there are two shoulder belts, thus having five points on the seat for attachment.
Six point harnesses are the same as five-point harnesses except the fact that they have an extra belt in between the legs, since it is considered to be a comparatively weak area.