This site is intended for health professionals only

Warning over sloppy seatbelt use

Many drivers are risking internal injuries in the event of a crash by not wearing their seatbelt correctly, research has shown.

More than 10% (13%) of drivers sit in the wrong position for their belt to be effective in a head-on collision, according to the poll by the British Osteopathic Association (BOA).

The belt should sit over the bones of the pelvis rather than the stomach if it is to be effective in preventing internal injuries, the BOA said. It added that to prevent serious neck injuries the belt should also be in contact with the shoulder.

However, the 13% highlighted in the survey were found to be sitting too far back. The BOA said they were at risk of slipping under their belt in a crash.

Also, the poll of 1,435 UK adults revealed that many drivers were increasing their risk of suffering serious whiplash by not positioning themselves close enough to the head restraint.

Published to coincide with the start of Back Care Awareness Week, the survey also showed 14% of drivers sit too close to the steering wheel, risking a serious chest injury from the airbag in an accident.

BOA council member Danny Williams said: "While most of us are aware that seatbelts save lives, it's fair to say that the majority of us don't know that the way we sit in a vehicle also plays a huge part in our safety and wellbeing.

"The position of the head restraint, how far or close we sit to the steering wheel and how long we spend sitting at the wheel without having a break can cause long-lasting neck and back injuries."

Copyright © Press Association 2010