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Seat Belt Entanglements are Dangerous and Avoidable

Seat belts save countless lives every year, but if not used properly or without prior training, kids often get entangled in seat belts with unfortunate results. At Kniesel's Collision Center - Downtown X, we always stress driving safety here in our blog, in the hopes of making Sacramento and the whole state of CA a little safer place to drive.

A child within reach of a seat belt can in some cases become entangled if he or she pulls the seatbelt all the way out and wraps the belt around his or her cranium, neck, waist or any limb. Some kids believe that cars are a fun place to play, but seat belt entanglements aren't fun in any way.

Almost every seat belt system comes with a locking mechanism that is triggered when the seat belt is pulled completely out from the retractor. This feature is designed primarily for child seat installation, but in situations when the locking feature activates, the child might not be able to free him or herself. These devices are carefully tested and designed to alleviate entanglements, but they do occur, mostly due to human error and committed mostly by young children, ages 2-8.

This can occur if you do not properly restrain your child or if you let the youngster lie down or sleep on the vehicle seat, instead of being properly restrained. Older children who are no longer in a child restraint system, can become entangled by pulling a seatbelt completely out of the retractor, or by fumbling with an unused seat belt.

If you used your vehicle's Lower Anchors and Tether for Children (LATCH) system to install your car seat, your child may still be able to gain access to an unused seatbelt.

Basic Prevention Tips:

  • Never let any child play in or around any vehicle.
  • Never leave a child alone in or around a car--ever for any reason.
  • Always make absolutely certain that your children are correctly restrained.
  • Instruct your children that seat belts are surely not toys and playing with them is always wrong.
  • When you get a new car, always carefully check out that some seat belts have a retractor that locks if pulled out completely.
  • If a child has an unused seat belt within his or her reach, always buckle all of the unused seat belts. Pull the seatbelt out all the way to the end without yanking it and then feed the excess webbing back into the retractor.

If you can follow these directives, it is unlikely that your children will ever be involved in any type of seatbelt entanglement. Let's all work together to make our community as safe as it can possibly be! 

Sources: NHTSA, LATCH and AAA

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