Airbag and Seatbelt Safety Guide
Wearing a seatbelt can save your life. It is this fact that makes it so important for everyone in a vehicle to wear a safety belt. These belts, along with the airbags in a car, can lessen the effects of an accident. In order to help our clients understand more about the importance of safety belts, here is our guide to seatbelts and airbags.
Everyone in a vehicle fitted with seatbelts must be wearing their seatbelt. This is the case unless you have a doctors note that wearing a seatbelt is not a possibility because of a medical condition, are driving a taxi after dark or are pregnant and have a doctors note that you should not be wearing a seatbelt.. A seatbelt fits properly when it sits over the hips, the buckle is at the hip and the side sash comes over the shoulder. The seatbelt should not be loose and should not rest on the head or neck of a passenger.
Seatbelt Laws for Children Under 16
As children are still growing and their body weight and height is often fluctuating there are many rules and regulations that will follow a child through their development. Therefore, for children under 16 there are specific rules and regulations which were set forth as of July 2010 from the Australian Transport Council. These rules state:
- Babies under six months must be in a rear facing child seat. The seat must be placed in the furthest row back from the front in a vehicle with over two rows.
- Children who are between six months old and four years old can be in either a rear facing or front facing child seat. The child must be in an approved harness which holds them safely in the seat. The seat must be secured in the furthest row of seats from the front when in a vehicle with two or more rows.
- Children from four to seven years old can be in a forward facing child seat or a booster seat. The child must be safely secured in the seat with the proper harness.
- Children over seven can be in a booster seat with a harness or use an adult seatbelt as long as it fits appropriately. Children from four to seven can only sit in the front passenger seat if all other seats in the vehicle have been occupied by younger children.
- Safety regulations based on age should be adjusted based on the height and weight of children.
Not wearing a seatbelt is illegal. The penalties for not wearing a seatbelt include:
- When the driver is not wearing a seatbelt there is an on the spot fine and three demerit points are taken.
- When one passenger is not wearing a seatbelt there is an on the spot fine and three demerit points are taken.
- When more than one passenger is not wearing a seatbelt there is an on the spot fine and five demerit points are taken.
When considering whether or not to buckle up the penalty of a fine or demerit may not be enough to drive the message home. Seatbelts save lives. From 2008 to 2012 the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure has found that 36% of all fatal accidents were those where the driver or passenger was not wearing a seatbelt. 9% of people were seriously injured in accidents as they did not have seatbelts on.
When delving further into these statistics it is found that on average 40 children under the age of 16 are killed every year from a serious injury in a vehicle.
When used in conjunction with seatbelts, airbags are very helpful in keeping passengers safe. There are several safety regulations which are put out under the Australian Design Rule. Airbags are not mandatory, however they are part of what helps to meet the safety standards when it comes to securing the head, neck and chest of passengers and drivers in a vehicle.
Airbags are not as light and fluffy as they look in commercials. Airbags go off at impacts where high speeds are involved. Due to these safety settings there are not a high number of airbag induced injuries, but there are some. Airbags themselves come out of the dashboard at a speed of about 200km/h. They inflate, stop the person from flying forward and deflate all within 60 milliseconds. This timeframe is so fast that in the hectic time of the impact, it may be hard to detect the airbag process at all.
Because of the force of an airbag, to prevent injury, move the seat as far back from the dashboard as possible. Be sure that the seatbelt is fitted properly to keep you or your family against the back of the chair and not flying forward.
Additional Airbags and Seatbelts
Airbags are commonly found in the front of the vehicle. However, there are many more car manufacturers who are installing side airbags to prevent injury from a car hitting the side of your car.
Seatbelts are available to be added to a vehicle. If a seatbelt has malfunctioned or there is not an adequate belt in the middle seat or back seats of a vehicle, it is possible for a qualified mechanic to fit your car with additional belts. It is important that no two people share a seatbelt. This can take away the affective nature of the belt as a person will not be properly secured when a belt is overstretched over two people.
Staying Safe in a Vehicle
An impact of a vehicle is a scary thing to think about. However, it is important that you take the split second to consider the statistics mentioned above and take the time to click on your belt. Teach children and novice drivers that it is important to wear their belts no matter how far they are driving. As most accidents take place within a shorter distance to home, seatbelts are even important when going down the block.
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