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How to Avoid Seat Belt Submarining

What is seat belt submarining?

Submarining occurs when the rider is propelled underneath the lap seat belt during a collision. Sometimes the rider is propelled out of the vehicle. Submarining can result in severe injuries like internal bleeding, spinal injuries, injuries to the lower limbs, and death, even in low-speed collisions.

Seat belt submarining can be caused by improper use of the seat belt or deficiencies in the make and/or installation of the seat belt. You have no control over the manufacturing and installation of the seat belts, but you can check that they are secure and look “right” to you.  And, you do have control over using your seat belts properly.

Proper Seat Belt Use

The lap belt is to be worn snugly across your lap and pelvis, not your stomach. Pregnant women should place the lap belt below their stomachs. The seat belt should fit across your shoulder and not dig into your neck. It should be worn over the shoulder and not underneath an arm. If the seat belt is very snug or does not reach the  buckle, purchase an after-market restraint and extender, and have it professionally installed. Please watch the video for additional tips on how to properly wear a seat belt.

Seat Belts and Safety for Children

Massachusetts drivers will be interested in learning about Massachusetts’ enhanced child safety law (aka Booster Seat Bill). In summary,

“…all children riding in passenger motor vehicles must be in a Federally-approved child passenger restraint that is properly fastened and secured until they are 8 years old or over 57 inches tall” — Public Safety, Enhanced Child Passenger Safety Law

Child passenger safety is a big topic, and we will cover it in more detail in another post.

Injuries can be avoided by wearing seat belts properly. If you or a loved one has incurred injuries from submarining a seat belt when a collision occurred, contact experienced personal injury law attorneys like the Worcester-based law firm Bodkin & Mason.  We can be reached at 508-459-6353, and welcome your inquiry to determine whether you have a claim. You can also use our on-line, “Do I Have a Case” form to connect with us.