Saturn center shoulder seatbelt for safe driving

by Anthony Fontanelle

By September 1 this year, the US Department of Transportation said, the rear and center seats of all vehicles will have to be equipped with a safety seatbelt. Cars like the General Motor's Saturn line that have front-facing rear and center seats, are required to fit in a Type-2 integral lap-and-shoulder safety seatbelt. The transportation department order, proposed in September 2005, asked auto manufacturers that same year to begin equipping their cars in production with a rear and center seatbelt. For older Saturn and other makes that were rolled out of the assembly plant prior to the order, car owners can get their Saturn seatbelt in the aftermarket segment of the automotive industry.

A Type-2 Saturn shoulder seatbelt is a lap-and-sash safety belt built in one continuous webbing. The harness on the lap and shoulders of the Saturn center seatbelt helps spread out the energy of the moving body over the chest, pelvis, and shoulders. Tests have shown that in an impact the body keeps moving until the slack is taken out of the restraint. But then the body must be abruptly stopped to "catch up" with the car. The ergonomic design of the Saturn center shoulder seatbelt allows the safety harness to be placed low on the passenger's hipbones, so that the belt loads will be taken by the strong skeleton of the human body. If a safety belt is improperly positioned on your abdomen, it can cause internal injuries. If it is positioned on one's thighs, rather than the hipbones, the seatbelt cannot effectively limit the body's forward motion.

Because the lower end of the Saturn center shoulder seatbelt is usually fastened to the safety belt buckle called the buckle insert, the buckle seatbelt is positioned on the side of the passenger's hip. This differs from the central location of the buckle common on most safety seatbelt. When the safety buckle of the Saturn center shoulder seatbelt is tightened on the hips, the belt makes an angle of about 55 degrees with the centerline of the car cabin. Together with the webclamps and pretensioners that rein in the Saturn seatbelt, this operating angle allows the seatbelt to resist the upward pull of the shoulder belts, reducing the risk of internal injury to the passengers.

About the Author

Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.

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