Seatbelts are designed to prevent the seat occupant to be thrown out of the vehicle in the event of a car collision. These safety components also ensure the occupants are held in an upright position to prevent suffering head and spine injuries.
However, if these components have defects, they will not be able to perform their intended function properly. That is why as a car owner, you should conduct checkups to make sure that your seatbelts do not have defects. The following are some of the most common defects that may cause seatbelt failure:
- Inertial unlatching â€“ This causes the seatbelt to unlatch by itself when the vehicle suddenly stops.
- Defects in the belt â€“ Belt materials should be durable and cannot be torn or broken easily.
- Seatbelt retractor failure â€“ This is when the seatbelt looks, sounds, and feels locked when it is actually not. When the car gets into a collision, the seatbelt may unlatch. Retractor failure is usually a manufacturing or design defect. If you found out that your seatbelts have this defect, you can contact the manufacturer to fix or replace them.
- Poor seatbelt geometry â€“ The location of the seatbelt is crucial in relation to its capacity to withstand collisions and the ability to protect its passenger. A common problem is when the occupant is too small for the geometry of the seatbelt. The shoulder strap may go too high near the neck of the passenger, which may cause neck and spine injuries.
- The seatbelt is either lap-only or shoulder-only - Seatbelts that are lap only or shoulder only may pose serious injuries. To ensure passenger safety, seatbelts should have both shoulder and lap belts.
Investigators also consider seatbelt failure when identifying the causes of injuries or deaths in a vehicle accident. Generally, the injuries incurred by passengers are caused by seatbelt failure if:
- There are both injured and non-injured occupants in the vehicle. If there are both injured and uninjured passengers, there was a defect in one of the car's safety components.
- An injured passenger is found wearing a loose or broken seatbelt. This happens when the material used for the seatbelt is not durable enough. The injured person may file a personal injury complaint against the product manufacturer.
- An occupant's seatbelt is unbelted but he insists that he was belted when the accident happened. This is easy to prove if the passenger is alive or conscious.
- The occupant in the front seat made contact with the windshield.
- There are serious injuries of occupants in a less-damaged car. Logically, the more damaged the car is, the more serious the passengers' injuries should be. But if this is not the case, then the injuries must have been acquired within the components of the car.
- The seatbelt has been pulled loose from where it is situated.