Seatbelts: what are they and how do they work?

Seatbelts (or safety belts) are restraint systems that keep passengers correctly positioned during an accident or sudden stop, thereby reducing the impact of the vehicle interior on the body and preventing people from being ejected.

They have significantly evolved since they were first introduced. Today’s seatbelts are pre-tensioned: they are tightened almost instantly upon impact in order to prevent passengers from being jerked forward excessively.

Seatbelts are part of a range of built-in mechanisms that protect occupants of a car in case of a crash, the so-called passive safety systems, which also include airbags and deformation zones.

Passive safety technology is all about mitigating the consequences of an accident during and after impact, as from the moment that first contact is made. They do this by reducing the impact of an accident or the level of injury.