Safety First: Is Your Seat Belt Properly Fastened?
It is safest for those in wheelchairs to sit in the vehicle’s seat rather than the wheelchair, if possible. Seat belts are the best defense against accidents, but only if they are properly fastened. They protect in frontal crashes by shielding the head, neck and chest. Serious injuries can occur if your seat belt is worn improperly.
Even if you know how and always buckle up, it doesn’t hurt to double check the proper procedure:
- The lap belt and shoulder belt should be secured across the pelvis and rib cage, which are more able to withstand crash forces than other parts of the body.
- The shoulder belt should be placed across the middle of your chest and away from your neck. It should go over your shoulder and be snug across your chest. Never put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.
- The lap belt should be low over your pelvic bones (hips), below your stomach (abdomen).
- Never recline your seat while wearing a seatbelt in a moving vehicle.
- If they are uncomfortable or not snug, ask your dealer about seat belt adjusters to get the best fit.
Even if you are only driving a short distance under ideal conditions, fasten your seat belt.
If you drive an older or classic car with lap belts only, check with your vehicle manufacturer about how to retrofit your car with today’s safer lap/shoulder belts.
Don’t drive until everyone has a seat belt properly fastened.
Pregnant? If you’re expecting, check out NHTSA’s “Should pregnant women wear seat belts?” brochure online to learn how important it is for you — and your unborn child — to buckle up the right way every trip, every time.
Have children? Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at www.nhtsa.gov and click on Child Safety to find out how to secure your littlest passengers.
This mobility safety update has been brought to you by NMEDA – the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Need some information on how to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible or upgraded with the latest and most convenient features? Contact a NMEDA dealer in your local area. Your local NMEDA member is a mobility equipment and accessibility expert!