Don’t sit back too far, enjoy driving

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Tony Blodgett
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Safety Office
Some vehicle owner's manuals warn about the dangers of tilted-back seats while driving, the warnings do not state specifically what degree of recline is dangerous.

A National Transportation Safety Board research study showed that a partially pushed back seat increased a passenger's risk of death by 15 percent, and fully reclined seats increased the risk by 70 percent.

Any angle where the seatbelt is not positioned directly over a person's lap, hips, and shoulders renders the belt ineffective for spreading crash forces across the body in the event of an accident.

What this means is, if you are in an automobile accident, you are much more likely to be killed if your seat is in a reclined position. Tilting your seat back too far makes seat belts much less effective, if not completely useless, because the shoulder harness of the belt moves away from the body.

During an accident the seat belt does two things: it keeps passengers in their seat, and allows the driver to maintain control of the vehicle. If you are sitting back to the point to where either the lap or shoulder belt is no longer in contact with your body, you're no longer centered and you risk sliding underneath the lap seat belt and being thrown around the inside of the vehicle during an accident.

When your body is thrown around a vehicle it not only causes blunt trauma from hitting objects like the steering wheel and windshield, but it can cause organ damage or death as momentum can force internal organs to move around and get punctured by other body parts like the ribcage.

Airbags also become useless if you're not belted in correctly as additional space between the seatbelt and the occupant's chest is created, which increases risk of death or serious injury in a collision.

To increase your chance of survival in automobile accidents make sure your seatbelt is tight and secure. If it feels a little loose after you tighten it, then move up your seat.

For more information, call the 52nd Fighter Wing Safety Office at DSN 452-7233 or 06565-61-7233.