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Seatbelts are not designed to fit all body types

As drivers, we constantly hear about the need to wear a seatbelt in the car. While a seatbelt's ability to protect you during a crash is irrefutable, the safety equipment may not be designed to fit your body type ideally.

According to CBS News, seatbelts are designed to withstand the force necessary to keep a 40-year-old man in his seat. The average American male is five feet, 10 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds. This design consideration could be bad news for people with a smaller stature, especially older women who are more susceptible to bone health issues.

With one in five drivers in the U.S. over the age of 65, it is important to be aware of the potential for injuries associated with seatbelt use. Traffic safety authorities still stress that a seatbelt should be worn (an injury caused by the seatbelt would not be as severe as an injury sustained without it), but to be on the lookout for improvements to accommodate drivers of all shapes and sizes.

Future improvements?

Researchers say that it is important to wear seatbelts as designed with the belt across your lap and the diagonal, cross-body strap resting on your shoulder. The belt should be adjusted, if necessary, so that it falls on your clavicle (collarbone) and not your ribs. The clavicle is a stronger bone than your ribs and it is less likely to damage vital organs if it were to break as the result of wearing a seatbelt in a crash.

Seatbelt adjusters are also inexpensive and available via online retailers. You can use a seatbelt adjuster to move the diagonal strap from resting on your neck to your shoulder. Meanwhile, researchers say they are working to develop a seatbelt that can automatically adjust to the person in the seat.

What if I am injured in a crash?

If you are injured in a car accident, you should notify your insurance company and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Delaying treatment could lengthen recovery time and greaten your risk of adverse, long-term health effects. After initial treatment, you can seek the help of a personal injury lawyer to hold the involved parties responsible for their actions.

Even the most careful drivers cannot avoid all accidents. Therefore, you should take care in wearing your seatbelt every time you are in a vehicle. The future shows promise of better vehicle safety features. Be sure you're there to see it.

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