In the event of a crash, seat belts are designed to keep you inside the vehicle. They also reduce the risk that you will collide with the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield. New seat belt designs have the following additional features that improve seat belt performance:
- Adjustable upper belts. An adjustable upper belt lets you change the position of the shoulder strap to accommodate a person’s size. This feature may encourage passengers to wear their belts, since it increases shoulder belt comfort.
- Seat belt pretensioner. Pretensioners retract the seat belt to remove excess slack, almost instantly, in a crash. However, you still need to adjust your seat belt so that it fits as snugly as possible, since pretensioners are not powerful enough to pull you back into your seat in the event of an impact.
- Energy management features. Energy management features allow seat belts to “give” or yield during a severe crash to prevent forces on the shoulder belt from concentrating too much energy on your chest. These features include “load limiters” built into the shoulder belt retractor and/or “tear stitching” in the webbing that causes the seat belt to extend gradually.
- Rear center seat lap/shoulder belts. Some manufacturers provide a rear centre lap/shoulder belt. This added feature is especially beneficial to older children and children in booster seats who are often seated in the rear centre position.