Safety Belts are Safe

I recently wrote an article about the use of safety belts (seat belts) in vehicles. They are more than just a good idea. But some people claim that safety belts (or seat belts) are not safe.  Yes, there have been accidents (some fatal) that involved seat belts that either didn’t release properly or somehow malfunctioned. However, the times that seat belts have SAVED lives makes those other incidents pale in comparison. But let’s take a look at some common arguments and misconceptions. Maybe there are some valid arguments?

Seat belts Can Pin You In

Yes, it is true that seat belts can lock passengers in their seats. This argument usually comes up when talking about an accident involving a car that has driven into a body of water. The car sinks, and the seat belts become locked, trapping the driver and passengers. This can happen, but it’s not as common as you think. According to, fatal crashes that included drowning were only .0069% of all crashes.

In addition to the low numbers of water-related crashes, the ability to undo a seat belt takes less than a second. However, you must be conscious after the crash to undo your belt.  This is why it is best to wear a seat belt in the first place.  It can prevent you from being knocked unconscious.  This can be especially important in case of a fire.

If you are still not convinced, there are special devices you can buy that will not only cut through a seat belt but will also break the car window. While these can truly be lifesavers, most of the time, especially at lower speeds, the seat belts will protect you and reduce your chances of getting injured tremendously.

Airbags Alone

Some people believe that with the implementation of airbags, you don’t need to wear seat belts.  However, airbags are meant to be a backup measure. In fact, their very name “Supplemental Restraint System” or “SRS” should be all the explanation needed. Airbags are supplemental. They are not supposed to take the place of seat belts; they enhance the protective abilities of seat belts.

Yes, there have been people who were not wearing a seat belt, but were saved by their SRS (airbags). However, these are not the norm. The seat belt is your main protective device in the car.


Many people complain that wearing a seat belt is just plain uncomfortable. They actually should not be that uncomfortable. If they are very irritating, you may be wearing them wrong. Check to make sure they are adjusted and fit properly. Some have adjustments that allow the seat belt to cover the proper area.

Some people will slide their arm out from under the shoulder harness part of the seat belt to free up their arm.  This is a bad idea.  According to the CDC, this can negate the effects of seat belt and actually break your ribs if you were in an accident.  It’s best to wear the harness properly.

There is another thing you can do if you just can’t stand wearing a seat belt. You can buy a comfort strap. This is a soft, cushion material that wraps around the seat belt where the seat belt touches your neck. These are actually really nice.

Final Thoughts

Seat belts reduce your chances of injury by over 50%. So, no matter what, you’re better off wearing them than not. They can save your life.

Written by Gary Pradel