Seatbelt Complications: What to Do if a Seatbelt Doesn’t Fit or If There is Only a Lap Belt

There is no question that seatbelts save lives. That said, in order to work as well as they should, they must fit correctly. This is one of the reasons that children who have outgrown their forward-facing child restraints need to use a booster that gets them to the right height. As a result, many adults wonder: If my seatbelt doesn’t fit right, should I still wear it? Lap belts are not nearly as helpful as full seatbelts – does that mean they should not be worn?

Get answers to these and other questions about wearing seatbelts. If you are involved in a car accident and require the help of a personal injury attorney, contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 for a free legal consultation.

Seatbelts Must Fit Right to Do Their Job

In order for seatbelts to properly do their job, they must fit correctly. Shoulder belts should lie snugly across the middle of the chest and shoulder – not on the neck or face. They should not fall off the shoulder. The lap belt should be snug on the upper thighs or low on the hips – not across the belly. Getting the right fit can be lifesaving.

Consider the Seatbelt When Buying a New Vehicle

There are many factors to consider when buying a new vehicle but make sure that seatbelts are one of them. The belt should be a good fit and for the passengers who will regularly be riding in your vehicle. Most newer vehicles allow for the owner to customize them for the right fit. For example, adjustable D-rings make it possible for shoulder belts to be raised and lowered when needed. Look at the vehicle manual or talk to the dealer before you buy a vehicle.

What to Do if Your Seatbelt is Not Long Enough

If the seatbelt in your vehicle is not long enough, you may be able to purchase a belt extender from your vehicle manufacturer. However, do not buy just any extender. If you use the wrong one, or one that is not strong enough, it could cause more trouble than the safety it adds.

What to Do if You Only Have a Lap Belt

A lap belt is not as good as one with a shoulder restraint. That said, it is better than having no belt. Any vehicle that was built before September 2007 could have just lap belts in the rear seats. Others built after that date should have three-point seatbelts in all seating positions.

Any Restraint is Better Than No Restraint

It is essential to remember that while a belt that fits well provides the best protection, any restraint is better than having no restraint. If your belt does not fit correctly, that is not a reason to not wear it. Save your life by wearing a belt.