If you find yourself struggling to buckle up in your seat or the belt was otherwise too short to go around your body, you may use a seatbelt extender.
In recent years, extenders are often advertised as a convenience to make buckling-in easier for children, obese people, pregnant moms, etc. However, they have pretty much become a debating subject due to their safety.
In some cases, they are advertised as a solution but they are also reported to have caused severe injuries and even death. Read on as we discuss further the use of seatbelt extender.
What are seatbelt extenders used for?
Seatbelts are a vehicle safety device to secure the driver or a passenger against harmful movement that may result during a collision. But what happens if you cannot use a regular seatbelt?
Here come the seatbelt extenders as an extra piece to make the seat belt longer. The idea was to make life easier for larger builds who could not use standard seatbelts.
Seatbelt extenders are not generic and come in various ‘sizes’. A typical seatbelt extender is almost universally up to 24 inches (60.9cm) in length. They can be either flexible or rigid in construction.
When to use seatbelt extenders?
Seat belt extenders are a great accessory in any vehicle and can help ensure the safety or comfort of an individual.
However, please note that they are only safe for use in car seats on adults under certain circumstances. These seatbelt extenders are perfectly safe if used in the following applications only:
- Car and airplane seats that are already equipped with factory-fitted seatbelts that meet existing standards
- For adults who have a larger body size, are obese, or have limited mobility/disabilities that cannot be accommodated in regular-length seatbelts
- Used only when it is an original product by a reputable manufacturer that adheres to all the federal standards and regulations that declare it safe for use
Why is it dangerous to use a seatbelt extender?
Although it may be convenient, seatbelt use tends to increase risk-taking in drivers and passengers. It could lead to an increase in more severe accidents, which, in turn, reduces or mitigates the effectiveness of seatbelts. Here are what makes seatbelts dangerous at times.
- Extenders can fail in a crash
As we mention above, extenders are not made as generic universally. It is important to ensure the extender matches the buckle used in the specific vehicle.
Example: A seatbelt extender from a vehicle manufacturer (Honda). However, it does not mean that it will match all Honda vehicles.
What happens if the extender does not match the buckle? There’s a high chance your extender will not be able to keep the seatbelt buckled when excessive force is applied in a crash, therefore, leaving the individual completely unbuckled.
- Extenders can change the geometry of the seatbelt on the body
Seat belt extenders change the geometry of the seat belt on the body. How will it affect?
Extenders make the buckle stalk longer. As the seat belt extender gets longer, the shoulder belt moves farther off the collar bone and onto the arm. For safety, the shoulder belt must be on the collar bone to hold the chest and head back properly in a crash.
When NOT to use seatbelt extenders?
Seatbelt extenders are not safe when used for:
- Child car seat or booster seat
- Pregnant woman (unless her body size does not allow the buckling ofa seatbelt)
- Adults without a valid need for an extender
Use seatbelt extender only when needed
Please mind using the seatbelt extenders in the right way.
Regardless, they are only safe when used correctly and matched to the car in use. If you need to use one, ensure you purchase an extender that is compatible with your specific vehicle.