Seatbelts in a Collision

From a physics point of view, what would happen if you or your passengers were not wearing a seat belt and the car was brought to a sudden and abrupt halt by a collision with a big tree?


  • Everyone inside the vehicle will move in the direction of impact until they are stopped by their seat belts or the inside surface of the vehicle.
  • Organs get jarred. Solid organs like the spleen and the liver fracture and bleed. Hollow organs like the stomach rupture. Vessels like the aorta tear. Lungs rupture or become punctured.
  • Seat belts protect the driver and passengers from the powerful forward moving forces and the three crashes that occur in any collision.

Passenger Restraints Tips

Here are some helpful Do’s and Don’ts for seat belts.

  • DO – Wear your shoulder belt snugly over your shoulder and across the center of your chest.
  • DON’T – Tuck a shoulder belt behind your arm or back, or wear across your neck or face.
  • DON’T – Adjust your seat so far back that the shoulder belt doesn’t reach you—you could slip out from under it in a crash.
  • DO – Fit your lap belt snugly across your hips and upper thighs.
  • DON’T – Fit your lap belt over your stomach.
  • DO – Ask your car dealer about seat belt adjusters or extenders if the seat belt does not fit properly, and ask your car manufacturer how you can install a shoulder belt if your vehicle only has a lap belt.
  • DO – Model correct passenger restraint behavior for all children and passengers.
  • DO – Remember to tell all of your passengers to wear their seat belts!

Impact of a Crash is Like…

Did you wear your seat belt when you drove to work today? If you had passengers, did they all buckle up?

Watch this 60-second video about the impact during a car crash.

Will you wear your seatbelt on the drive home today?

Seat belts:

  • Protect drivers and passengers by helping absorb the force of a crash.
  • Keep occupants from being ejected in a crash, a frequent cause of death when people aren’t properly secured.
  • Hold the driver in place so he or she can better control the vehicle.

Increase the odds of surviving a serious crash.


Know the Odds of Passenger Restraints…

An estimated 9% of Texans are not buckling up, and nearly 1,000 Texans killed in car crashes were known to not be properly restrained in 2014 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).


  • Let’s watch this 40-second video of the impact a seat belt can make.

    • Now imagine four close friends or family members in your car with you. Drivers and passengers who buckle up are 45% less likely to die and 50% less likely to be moderately injured in a motor vehicle crash. Do you want to play the odds with your family or friends? (Didn’t think so!)
    • How many of you own or take frequent rides in a pickup truck? Seat belt use is the lowest for pickup trucks among all types of vehicles. In fatal crashes, pickups roll over almost twice as often as passenger cars!

    Conclusion: Seat belts—including child safety seats—are the least expensive and most effective way to save lives and reduce the severity of injuries. Do EVERYTHING you can, and buckle up!


Does Everyone Have to Wear a Seat Belt?

  • Have you ever been in the car for a short time (ex: backing out of the driveway, going a few blocks to the store) where you don’t buckle up?
  • Before you drive away, do you turn around to make sure everyone in your car has a seat belt on?
  • If you are riding in a friend’s car or taxi cab, do you bother to buckle up? Do you have to?

Watch this video:

Texas law states that all passengers in a vehicle must be secured by a seat belt. Texas law enforcement officials will ticket anyone who isn’t wearing a seat belt, including adult passengers in the back seat and drivers with children improperly secured.


Careless Carl


Listen to this conversation between Carl and his passenger.

  • Does Careless Carl’s story or parts of it sound like anyone you know?
  • Even though Texas is one of only 20 states with seat belt use rates of 90% or higher, in 2014 nearly 1,000 Texans killed in car crashes were known to not be properly restrained.