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Rehaan 9th February 2013 13:44

ARTICLE: Seat Belts Saved My Life! True Stories & Pictures from BHPians
6 Attachment(s)
There's a very fine line between life & death on Indian roads. In most cases, that line is only 6 centimeters wide and runs diagonally across our chest.

Seat belts have been around since the mid-1950s. They are considered to be the most effective safety devices in cars, and can increase your chances of surviving a crash by up to a whopping 60%. Ask any statistician and he'll tell you those are pretty good odds.

Yet, several overconfident and ill-informed road users continue to raise their needles without clicking themselves in. This thread will bust some common myths associated with seat belts, as well as illustrate the genuine abilities of these unassuming safety devices. First, we'll use the help of some real-life examples, submitted by BHPians who have lived to tell the tale - purely thanks to seat belts:

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"First thing I did was switch off the ignition. Then I held my hand, I knew something was broken. Asked co passengers if they are ok, thank god all were wearing seat belts and nobody except me was injured."
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"... my car's left side had gone on the footpath as the lorry driver banged me (remember it was just 10 ft away). IT WAS A HEAD-ON ACCIDENT. The whole car went under the lorry and came out due to the impact. Yes we had buckled up, but with that heavy monster in the front, only luck saved us."
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"I heard a bang and the next moment I realised all this action had stopped (i.e. swirling, bouncing, crashing). I saw that I was upside down. I again began praying that I am not on the opposite side or in the middle of the highway and someone comes and bangs into me. I couldn't figure out where I was (of course I was in the car). I was upside down. The first thing I did was -- started honking continuously thinking I am in the middle of road and people should get alert. Next I removed the seat belts and crawled out of the car from the driver side window which was anyway shattered."
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Rehaan 9th February 2013 13:45

Re: Seat Belts SAVE LIVES - True Stories & Pictures from BHPians!
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"I met with an accident earlier this year. 2 days in the ICU, 7 days in the hospital, right femur broken into 6 pieces (now kept together with a titanium rod), an open forehead (no internal injuries), a grave wound on my left knee. ... Yes I was wearing my seat belt. In fact the steering column had collided with the roof due to the accident. Because I was buckled up, many internal injuries were prevented. Even though my head had been cut open at a few places, I was lucky that I had no internal injuries."
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"A Maruti Swift, with 5 occupants, probably drunk, going towards Mysore at high speed, jumped the median and landed on the opposite lane bang ahead of the Tata Sumo that was in front of me. The Swift drove in the wrong direction and hit the Sumo head on. .... My Cedia had taken all the impact of the collision with the Tata Sumo and I was unhurt due to the seat belt keeping me in place and the airbags deployed preventing any head injuries."
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"... we flipped a total of 6 times. I'm not kidding. For me time kinda slowed down during the whole thing, so I counted the flips. The 6th flip took us off the highway and down about 40 feet into the fields, where the car came to rest on its right hand side. I was in the front left passenger's seat, and hanging from my seatbelt. Had to unhook myself and crawl out the front left window, which had gone. ... All said and done, all three of us in the car were lucky to walk away from this one alive. I don't know how any of us survived, to be honest. I've got one thing to say to everyone on this forum - PLEASE buckle up."
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"I was sitting at the passenger seat with one of my team members driving. I suddenly remember a huge thud and within no time the car was upside down. Villagers arrived from all directions and to my surprise they were not there to help us - however they were there to steal our valuables. Almost all of us lost our cell phones. I lost my watch which I bought using my first salary. All the occupants of the car walked out of the car with minor injuries, this mainly because of seatbelts."
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Rehaan 9th February 2013 13:51

Re: Seat Belts SAVE LIVES - True Stories & Pictures from BHPians!
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"Here's my Honda City that I crashed across a divider on a pitch dark rainy night near AFMC, Pune back in 2007. I got out without a scratch (just a sprain in the neck) due to my habit of harnessing the seat belt. The side panels had been blown away and the bonnet had banged on the windshield before being totally crumpled. The car did a perfect roll mid air some 6-7 feet high and landed on its feet bursting all the four tyres."
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"The car skidded first to the left and then right and then the car hit the divider. BANG!! We are dead. That is what hit my mind. Then a lot sound, and I could feel the car going round and round. After a few seconds everything was silent. People gathered. They said the car had somersaulted 7 times. ... Fortunately we were both safe. Guess who was the hero of the day - "SEAT BELTS". If I wasn't wearing them I would have surely been thrown out of the windscreen. We both were wearing seat belts. We both had neck sprains because of the impact."
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"Seatbelt saved. This was the state of my Esteem after the accident. Nobody was hurt. A miracle!!"
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rohittunga spotted this one:
"A new Swift collided head on with a truck on Shimoga - Harihara highway. I have no idea how it happened. But the most astonishing fact about this incident was that there was no casualty at all. The person driving the Swift was not the owner but the driver and there was no passenger in the car. Had there been a front passenger in the Swift, then it would've been a different story altogether. The driver was shocked to say the least. He wasn't able to explain to me how the incident happened but told me that he "WORE" the seat belt (which definitely saved his life) . He was busy in narrating this accident to the car owner on the phone."
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Rehaan 9th February 2013 13:52

Re: Seat Belts SAVE LIVES - True Stories & Pictures from BHPians!
The Physics of a Crash - Simplified

3 collisions.
In any crash, there are actually 3 individual collisions that occur and cause damage:
1st collision: Your car hits a vehicle or large object on the road. Naturally, this does the damage to your car.

2nd collision: As your car comes to a halt, your body is still continuing forward with the inertia, and finally collides with a part of the car’s interior (steering wheel, dashboard, windshield). This gives you bruises, cuts and broken bones.

3rd collision: As your body comes to a halt, your internal organs are still moving forward with some momentum. They finally collide with your rib-cage and other internals. This can cause ruptured organs, punctured lungs and internal bleeding.
These 3 collisions happen in every accident. Seat belts greatly reduce the impact & damage caused in collision 2 and 3 by decelerating / halting the occupant at a slower rate, and preventing more vulnerable parts (like the head) from taking any direct impact.

Your body's stopping distance.
Even if a car takes several meters to come to a halt after an accident, it’s the short distance that the passenger takes to come to a stop in the 2nd collision (deceleration) that dictates the amount of impact force they'll experience. I won’t get into the calculations of this, but a basic understanding of this concept will help further on in this write-up.

Seat belts are slightly stretchable.
Yes. You read that correctly. The belt material is designed to stretch ever so slightly under extreme force. The advantage of this is, it further increases the occupant's stopping distance, thereby reducing the deceleration force they experience. Think about it, the difference between punching a cement wall and punching a wooden door is a tiny bit of flex. Other seat belt systems have "load limiters" which let out some extra belt when an immense force pulls on them. Load limiters can even be a fold stitched into the seat belt, which breaks the stitching and unravels more of the belt when it crosses a threshold force. Seat belts also help spread the force over a much wider area across the occupant's comparatively rugged rib-cage and pelvis, rather than a more concentrated & damaging impact to vulnerable areas of the body.

Watch how distinct the 1st and 2nd collisions are (at 00:10 and 00:12 respectively), and watch how the seat belt helps negate the 2nd collision:

Rehaan 9th February 2013 13:52

Re: Seat Belts SAVE LIVES - True Stories & Pictures from BHPians!
Common Myths & Misconceptions

"I don’t need a seat belt at these speeds."
Contrary to popular belief, seat-belts are a great help even at speeds as low as 5 km/h. At 10 km/h, they'll probably save you a broken nose. It’s simple physics.
The rapid deceleration that occurs during a car crash ends up acting as a relative multiplier for your body weight. Translated, if a 70 kg person is travelling at just 15 km/h, a crash would send him towards the windshield with a “crash weight” of around 407 kgs. Can a 70 kg person bench-press 400+ kgs, that too with getting their hands into position within a split second? No way!

At 25 km/h, that value would increase to 1.1 tonnes. And at a lowly 50 km/h, that same person’s “crash weight” would be 4.5 tonnes. That‘s the weight of an elephant!
Use this calculator to try your own numbers. Just remember that the “stopping distance” is actually the stopping distance for your body (not the car), which could be as little as 0.2 feet.

"Don’t worry, this car has airbags."
Airbags do provide added protection, but they are NOT a substitute for seat belts. In fact, airbags can cause more damage (even death) when used without seat belts. They have been designed as a Supplemental Restraint System (SRS). Only when used together, does the combination of airbags and seat belts provide the greatest protection for adults.

"But I’m pregnant!"
It is safer for both the mother and child if seat belts are worn by pregnant women. Just ensure that the lower band of the belt goes over the hips and pelvis (this means it should be below the belly, not across it). Also take care that your clothing or movements don’t cause that lap belt to rise up onto the belly. If possible, expecting mothers should be in the passenger seat (rather than driving themselves), as even a small impact from the steering wheel could cause problems in an accident. More info.

"But I’m sitting at the back."
Rear passengers are generally safer without seat belts, since the soft seat-back of the front seats helps cushion the impact of a low-speed crash. However, higher speeds will multiply the force and therefore, the potential for injury in the same situation. The center passenger at the rear is especially vulnerable, as they don't have a seat ahead of them, and are likely to get thrown straight into (and sometimes through) the windshield. It’s always a good practice to wear seat belts at the rear, ESPECIALLY when on the highway. Another advantage of wearing belts at the rear is that it can keep passengers from being thrown out of the window during a roll-over (something that happens more often than you’d believe). Personally, I take every opportunity I get to buckle up on the rear seat, regardless of the driving speeds.

"There will be no cops on the road to catch me."
You should be wearing a seat belt because it will save your life, not because it will save you a 100 Rupee fine. The seat belt law is in place for a good reason.

"What if my car catches fire and I’m trapped by the belt."
Scared of being trapped in a burning car? Scared of driving off a bridge and drowning because your seat belts wouldn’t un-click? Well, don’t be. The simple fact is that seat belts are a thousand times more likely to save your life in an accident, than the chances of you ever being in a burning or drowning car. Even if your car does spontaneously combust or go for a swim, chances of the reliable and rugged seat belt latch malfunctioning are extremely low.

"I’m only driving a short distance."
Don’t tempt fate. There’s no telling when your luck can go bad. Also, there are dozens of studies concluding that more than 50% of accidents occur within 10 kms of the driver’s home.

Other common nonsensical excuses:
"I trust your driving"
• "I don't want to crumple my freshly ironed clothes"
• "It’s too uncomfortable for me"

Are any of these really worth risking a life for? As the driver of a vehicle, it’s also your duty to educate, and ensure that passengers wear their seat belts. You can always politely offer them the option of walking or taking public transport if they are averse to seat belt use.

Rehaan 9th February 2013 13:59

Re: Seat Belts SAVE LIVES - True Stories & Pictures from BHPians!

A conventional 3-point seat belt can help keep you safely in-place during roll-overs too:

Tips on putting on your seat belts correctly:

Some high-end vehicles have seat belt pre-tensioners. If you hit the brakes hard, they tighten the belt in preparation for impact:

Seat belts are life savers in most cases, but remember; driving smart and driving safe should always be your first line of defense!

Some must-read articles to help you drive safe:
Safe Highway Driving

Handling a Tyre Blowout

Safe Monsoon Driving

Safe Night Driving

Safe Driving in Fog

GTO 9th February 2013 14:13

re: ARTICLE: Seat Belts Saved My Life! True Stories & Pictures from BHPians
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Lovely article, Rehaan :thumbs up. I learned a lot reading through it. Found the information on triple impact particularly informative.

I started wearing seatbelts in '97 and give full credit to Mahindra for equipping the Classic 4x4 with belts (she was my daily driver then). This was years before bucking up became the law in India.

For those who think "my solid car is safe", get this : The sole survivor in the tank-like W140 S-Class crash (with Princess Diana onboard) was a bodyguard who wore his seat-belt. No one else did, and they ended up in heaven.

See how this idiot is thrown around his car after a rollover, and finally has his head outside the window! Could have broken his back too. This isn't a demo video, it's a real-life incident. The vehicle had a camera installed for security purposes:

I got a question for you : Of these two tests, which one would you volunteer for?

The "tank-like" W140 S-Class. The sole survivor of this crash was a bodyguard wise enough to buckle up (Pic Source):

R2D2 9th February 2013 14:21

re: ARTICLE: Seat Belts Saved My Life! True Stories & Pictures from BHPians
Great post!

Indian attitudes towards the necessity of wearing seat belt (or a helmet whilst riding a bike) is far from satisfactory. This is especially so on our roads with nasty surprises & indisciplined drivers.

While enforcement by the police is a part of the solution, the best and most effective method is to educate the driving/riding public.

I am really happy to see a renewed focus on car & road safety on TBHP. It helps save lives. Kudos to the Mods and all TBHPians.

Geo_Ipe 9th February 2013 17:40

Re: Seat Belts SAVE LIVES - True Stories & Pictures from BHPians!

Originally Posted by Rehaan (Post 3037098)
...At 25 km/h, that value would increase to 1.1 tons. And at a lowly 50 km/h, that same person’s “crash weight” would be 4.5 tons....

This has been an eye opener. Never used to buckle up within city limits. Gotta change those ways! :thumbs up

infotech58 9th February 2013 20:07

Re: ARTICLE: Seat Belts Saved My Life! True Stories & Pictures from BHPians
Wonderful compilation!

I have been trying to convince some people to buckle up but no success so far, guess sending them the link to this thread may help mend their ways.

vb-san 9th February 2013 21:07

Re: ARTICLE: Seat Belts Saved My Life! True Stories & Pictures from BHPians
Excellent thread Rehaan… Very well detailed, and extremely informative, especially the Physics of a Crash - Simplified section. Thank you!

This is one video which I showed my mom when she was complaining about the inconvenience of seat belts

WARNING: Graphic imagery

W.A.G.7 9th February 2013 22:42

Re: ARTICLE: Seat Belts Saved My Life! True Stories & Pictures from BHPians
A very useful article, thanks Rehaan. I can now show these true life incidences and the safety tips in the article as an evidence to everyone who argues with me; when I ask them to buckle up even in the rear seats! I unfortunately have a lot of friends and family members who don't wear seat belts when sitting in the rear seats and/or the front passenger seat. And when I insist on belting up, for some reason people feel that it is a joke and laugh it off. Something that I hate very much, every time I remind someone to buckle up in the car; and I have to listen to the sniggers and comments. Seat belts save lives, there can be no two ways about it. The worst reasoning comment I have heard is "Aw, c'mon there's no policeman watching there, so why should I wear a seat belt?" I have got into many arguments with my passengers because of this very stupid comment.

I remember an incident when I was small say in 2nd or 3rd standard. At that time we had a Premier Padmini (without seat belts of course). Once my mother was driving the car very very slowly at 4-5 km/h due to slow moving traffic, when all of sudden, she had to press the brakes hard, because the car in front stopped abruptly. I still remember the impact with which my head banged on the front wind shield, causing a huge bump on my head. From that day, it is hard wired into my brain, that when in a car, always belt up.

Thankfully nowadays, at-least my parents belt up when sitting in the car(s).

fast_elegance 10th February 2013 00:01

Re: Seat Belts SAVE LIVES - True Stories & Pictures from BHPians!

Originally Posted by Rehaan (Post 3037098)

Other common nonsensical excuses:
"I trust your driving"
• "I don't want to crumple my freshly ironed clothes"
• "It’s too uncomfortable for me"

Thank you Rehaan for this lovely article! Surely an eye-opener. :thumbs up

Shared the article on FB so that more people are aware.

Maverift 10th February 2013 03:44

Re: ARTICLE: Seat Belts Saved My Life! True Stories & Pictures from BHPians
Thanks for the wonderful article Rehaan. Even though its hardwired in my brain and I buckle up wherever I go and in whichever car I travel, I have so many relatives/friends who refuse to buckle up citing exactly the reasons you listed. I will now wield this article and the embedded videos as a weapon to shock those idiots into senses.

MetalBuff 10th February 2013 09:50

Superb article there!

Being one of the sought after automobile forums, this is the least that can be done from our end that is, educating the masses about the benefits of wearing seat belts while driving.

Even though, we have a larger chunk of people who wear seat belts when seated in the first row, a negligible percentage buckles up when seated in the ensuing rows (behind the driver's row). As explained in the article, they are at a similar risk of being injured or worse, getting thrown out of the window.

This has been a direct initiative but, I am proud about the fact that we have time and again reinforced the NEED to wear seat belts here on T-Bhp!

I, have been wearing seat belts regardless of where I am seated in the car (driver/ co-passenger/ rear passenger) however, I will try my best to educate my fellow passengers going forward.

Being T-Bhp members, we can spread some awareness and do our bit.

Couldn't help recollecting this scene from The Dark Knight where Two Face survives the crash simply, because he wore the seat belt that too, when seated in the rear seat.

-Shivang Gandotra

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