Seat belts: must I wear one?

IN recent weeks, there have been a number of fatalities on the roads, in the North and, also, here in the South of Tenerife.

While we are not suggesting that the use of seatbelts, or their lack of use, was to blame, it seems pertinent to refresh the memories of drivers and passengers on this subject.

We are all aware that wearing a seatbelt is obligatory. But, sadly, many people still avoid them. A seatbelt is designed to provide the driver, passengers and animals, as well as large objects such as cases and boxes, with safe and comfortable travel in a vehicle… not that boxes have to be comfortable!

The obligatory use of seatbelts was first introduced in Spain in 1975, but many countries have different laws on when they should be worn.

There is a clear difference about when it became obligatory to wear a seatbelt. In general, most countries made them a must for front seats in the 1970s. But rear seatbelts became legal, many years later.

Children must always be seated, safely and securely; not only wearing a seatbelt correctly, but also dependent on size, age or height in the appropriate car seat or booster seat. Full details can be found on the DGT site, if you have any doubts.

Animals may also be carried in the rear of vehicles, when they, too, are secured properly. This means that they must be restrained with an appropriate dog harness.

Most are linked into the seatbelt fixture with a strap, which means that the animal is safe and secure, and unable to interfere with the driver’s line of vision, or cause a distraction by jumping around etc.

If you have a large dog and a suitable vehicle, such as a Peugeot Partner, Citroen Berlingo or an estate car, for instance, a dog guard can be purchased and fitted. This enables the dog to travel safely in the “boot” area of the vehicle.

There is, of course, a correct way to wear a seatbelt, and this is extremely important, because, if not worn correctly, it will not provide the appropriate assistance in case of an accident, or sudden stop.

You should always wear the seatbelt over your shoulder, and pass it, immediately, down the upper torso of your body, engaging it firmly and securely.

Do not put it under your arm, because this could cause an injury in the event of an accident, and, possibly, not restrain you correctly.

If, like many women, especially, you find this position uncomfortable, you can purchase from car-accessory shops, or online, seatbelt covers that are padded, and fit, normally by Velcro, over the belt. This provides a buffer, and makes it more comfortable to wear.

Seatbelts can also be used to secure large loads, or boxes, you might be carrying in the rear of the vehicle, because they don’t fit into your boot.

There are, of course, fines and sanctions for not wearing a seatbelt, for not wearing it correctly, and for transporting animals without correct restraints.

You should check the seatbelts, periodically, for usage, fraying, fixing etc, to ensure your continued safety when travelling.

If you have any doubts that the belt is not working properly, or has severe wear, contact your garage and ask them to check, and, if necessary, supply and fit a new one.

A second-hand seatbelt is not recommended because your safety, and that of your passengers, should be a priority.

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Posted by on Aug 10 2018. Filed under Motoring. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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