With the two year old girl that was killed after being flung from a rolling vehicle in Hawkes Bay earlier this year, may be an opportune time to remind ourselves about the importance of being buckled in.
Contrary to what some people believe, the size of the vehicle you drive does not really make a difference, or at most gives the driver a false sense of safety. When driving at 90km/h in any vehicle, the occupants moves forward at the same speed. At this speed, a person weighing 90kg moves forward at a force of 2.6 tons or similar weight to that of an Indian elephant! A child weighing 25kg becomes a massive 625kg at this speed. If this does not bother you, you have not paid attention.
The purpose of the seat belt is to secure your body so that it decelerates at the same speed as the vehicle does. This will prevent injury by stopping the occupant from hitting the steering wheel, windscreen or dash at that speed. It also keeps the occupants secured inside the safety capsule of the vehicle.
On the other side of the coin, should you be unrestraint, you will bounce around inside the vehicle and chances are good that you will be flung out of the vehicle. Rear seat passengers also pose a risk to front seat passengers because of the same force that pushes forward. Trust me; you do not want an elephant on the back seat when you hit a solid object, like a vehicle, tree, building, etc. head on.
Road Safety Coordinator