How Common Are Seat Belt Failures?
It is well-known that seat belts save lives. However, seat belts are packed with mechanical components that can fail in a motor vehicle accident. More often than not, individuals wear their belts in the belief that they are protected without knowing that the belt they are counting on has a design defect or faulty component. In 2018, 89.6% of people wore their seat belts. The year before, records show that seat belts saved 14,955 lives. However, the data shows that seat belts don't offer guaranteed protection from injury or death.
What Seat Belt Malfunction Means for Vehicle Occupants
Seat belts do more than just prevent ejection from the car or truck. They help distribute the force of impact throughout the body which reduces the risk of injury. They are designed to shift these forces into the bones and muscles so that the forces of impact don't seriously injure the head or spinal cord.
When seat belts malfunction, these protective benefits are lost in the crash and individuals can suffer the same injuries they would have if they were not wearing a belt. Accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that this may be more common than is generally recognized.
How Common Are Seat Belt Malfunctions?
The NHTSA estimates that 47% of those who died in motor vehicle accidents in 2017 were not wearing seat belts. This rate rose to 54% for teenagers between the ages of 13-15 who died in motor vehicle accidents. That still leaves a respective 53% and 46% who died while they were restrained. Of these, an unknown number died because their seat belts failed to function properly.
Common Seat Belt Malfunctions
Seat belt malfunctions can include unlatching when inertial forces are applied. They can fail to properly latch resulting in a situation known as "false latching." The belt may have defects in the webbing that results in ripping or tearing when force is applied. It is also possible for the retractor to fail. This device is designed to lock during an impact, but it doesn't always work that way.
We encourage you to contact Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. at (303) 447-1144 to learn more about seat belt malfunctions. It is our pleasure to answer your questions and help you identify the ways to test your seat belts so that you can rely on them to keep you safe from harm.