How to Adjust Your Seat Belt

The wearing of seat belts can reduce the risk of injury during a car crash. When used properly, they provide drivers and passengers of motorized vehicles with increased protection. However, when used improperly, their ability to provide this safety is compromised. Proper seat belt adjustments are necessary to allow the restraints to work effectively.


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    Wear a diagonal belt across the upper chest. Drivers often complain that this strap is uncomfortable, and they sometimes slip this behind their backs. However, when you do this, the belt's ability to protect you from injury is decreased. Seat belts are designed to distribute force upon two areas of the body. Without this diagonal strap in place, this is impossible. If the strap is uncomfortable for you or your children, purchase a padded seat belt cover.
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    Adjust the lower strap, so it fits across the upper thighs and not the abdominal region. This belt is designed to distribute force to the pelvic area and needs to sit properly on the upper thigh to accomplish this goal.
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    Sit up straight in your seat. Slouching or leaning in the seat can cause the seat belt to rest improperly on the body. By sitting all the way back in the seat, the belts will sit on the correct areas of the body.
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    Maneuver the position of the seat itself. The farther a driver is sitting from the dashboard, typically the safer he is in the case of a collision. Move the handle or knob on the side of your seat to move the seat forward, backward, upward or downward, so it is a comfortable distance from the steering wheel, so you can see well out of all windows and so the seat belt is comfortable.
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    Check that the seat belts are not twisted. The belts should lie flat across your upper chest and your upper thigh areas. If the belts become twisted, the pressure that would occur in a collision has less surface area on which to be distributed.
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    Click the seat belt latch into place by sliding the metal end of the belt into the latching device. You should hear a click. Test that the belt is secure by tugging on it. If the belt doesn't come unlatched, the seat belt is secure.
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  • If another person drives the vehicle, be sure to re-adjust the strap to an appropriate height.
  • If this strap causes irritation, there are several after-market products available to increase comfort. Most newer vehicles have a height adjuster for the horizontal strap. Slide the adjuster up or down the belt to ensure that the strap is resting across the upper chest.


  • Having air bags in your car does not replace the need for wearing a seat belt. Seat belts provide protection in side-impact vehicle collisions, while air bags do not.

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Categories: Driving Basics