Seat Belt Safety for Adults
Follow these seat belt tips and guidelines, including do’s and don’ts when you’re pregnant.
The Top 5 Things You Should Know About Buckling Up
Seat belts are the best defense against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers. Being buckled up during a crash helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle; being completely ejected from a vehicle is almost always deadly.
2. Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them
If you don’t wear your seat belt, you could be thrown into a rapidly opening frontal air bag. Such force could injure or even kill you. Learn about air bag safety.
3. Guidelines to buckle up safely
- The lap belt and shoulder belt are secured across the pelvis and rib cage, which are better able to withstand crash forces than other parts of your body.
- Place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and away from your neck.
- The lap belt rests across your hips, not your stomach.
- NEVER put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.
4. Fit matters
- Before you buy a new car, check to see that its seat belts are a good fit for you.
- Ask your dealer about seat belt adjusters, which can help you get the best fit.
- If you need a roomier belt, contact your vehicle manufacturer to obtain seat belt extenders.
- If you drive an older or classic car with lap belts only, check with your vehicle manufacturer about how to retrofit your car with today’s safer lap/shoulder belts.
5. Seat belt safety for children and pregnant women
Find out when your child is ready to use an adult seat belt and learn about seat belt safety when you’re pregnant.
If You’re Pregnant: Seat Belt Recommendations for Drivers and Passengers
If you’re pregnant, make sure you know how to position your seat and wear a seat belt to maximize your safety and the safety of your unborn child. Read our recommendations below or view the instructional diagram version of our seat belt recommendations for pregnant drivers and passengers (PDF 497 KB).
I’m Pregnant. Should I Wear a Seat Belt?
- YES—doctors recommend it. Buckling up through all stages of your pregnancy is the single most effective action you can take to protect yourself and your unborn child in a crash.
- NEVER drive or ride in a car without buckling up first!
What’s the Right Way to Wear My Seat Belt?
- The shoulder belt away from your neck (but not off your shoulder) and across your chest (between your breasts), making sure to remove any slack from your seat belt with the lap belt secured below your belly so that it fits snugly across your hips and pelvic bone.
- NEVER place the shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back.
- NEVER place lap belt over or on top of your belly.
Should I Adjust My Seat?
- YES—Adjust to a comfortable, upright position
- Keep as much distance as possible between your belly and the steering wheel
- Comfortably reach the steering wheel and pedals
- To minimize the gap between your shoulder and the seat belt, avoid reclining your seat more than necessary.
- Avoid letting your belly touch the steering wheel.
What if My Car or Truck Has Air Bags?
- You still need to wear your seat belt properly.
- Air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them.
- Without a seat belt, you could crash into the vehicle interior, other passengers, or be ejected from the vehicle.
My Car Has an ON-OFF Air Bag Disabling Switch. Should I turn it off?
- NO—Doctors recommend that pregnant women wear seat belts and leave air bags turned on. Seat belts and air bags work together to provide the best protection for you and your unborn child.
What Should I Do if I am Involved in a Crash?
- Seek immediate medical attention, even if you think you are not injured, regardless of whether you’re the driver or passenger.