Car Safety 101: Learn How Seat Belts Work to Protect You

Posted by Artem Martynyuk on

Seat belts must be worn at all times. These belts may seem like something that hasn’t evolved due to their appearance, but they are proven to keep lives safer on the road. Moreover, wearing seat belts during a collision is known to help decrease the chances of major injuries and fatalities. The question is, how do seat belts work? 

Where It All Started

Before we dive into how seat belts work, it’s helpful to know a little bit of history. Originally, seat belts were invented for tourists and people who work in a job where they might need to be held safely. It was only in the 1950s when a study conducted by a California-based doctor linked seat belts to the decline of head injuries. When the study was published, car manufacturers Nash and Ford implemented the retractable seat belt into the vehicle.

How Seat Belts Work

The purpose of a seat belt is to keep vehicle occupants safe in the event of a collision. It works by keeping the occupant in static motion despite the sudden stop or change in momentum. 

The parts of a seat belt are: 

  • Webbed fabric belt: Holds the vehicle occupant in place
  • Retractor box: Where the seat belt rests when not in use
  • Spool and spring system: Housed in the retractor box and helps the seat belt to unspool smoothly when pulled
  • Tongue: The metal tab that inserts into the buckle
  • Buckle: Holds the tongue in place until the release button is depressed

The retractor box is on the floor or the vehicle’s interior wall, containing the spool and spring that the belt is rolled onto. It unspools from the spiraling spring to let the person pull the belt out. When the seat belt is unhooked, the same spiraling spring will re-spool. 

Now, when the seat belt is unspooled and is across a person’s body, the webbed fabric ends in the tongue, which is then inserted into the buckle. 

When a vehicle hits something, inertia changes. The lack of a seat belt will likely have the occupants thrown into various parts of the car, or worse, thrown entirely out of the car. 

If worn correctly, a seat belt will spread the stopping force across the pelvis and rib cage as these are the two most sturdy body parts. By directing the force in these areas, it will help minimize the effect of the crash on the body. 

How to Wear Seat Belts Properly

Seat belts are made of webbed fabric that is strong yet flexible enough to allow a small amount of movement when worn properly. Usually, seat belts have two parts: a lap belt that must be worn over the pelvis and a shoulder belt that extends over one shoulder and across the chest.

The person must be in an upright position with hips and back against the back of the seat. 

For young kids, adding a seat belt cover is an option to provide a cushion to the strap that goes along the shoulder/neck area. The cover can also keep the seat belt in a proper position to ensure maximum safety. For smaller children, car seats are mandated because they are the safest way to keep children secure in a moving vehicle. 


Now that you know how seat belts work, it’s important to remember that there could be issues with your seat belts as well. If you notice issues with your seat belts, make sure to have them repaired right away before you hit the road. Otherwise, you put you and your passengers at risk. 

Do you need to fix your seat belt after an accident in Westfield, MA? Repair My SRS is an accident restoration company. Check out online and send in your parts to our location. 

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