Don’t get the ‘killer look’, ladies

Ladies, seatbelts don’t work if you wear them under your arm instead of over the shoulder, writes Trish Whelan.

Right, that sounds like common sense. Except that too many of our gender seem to toss that out the window of the car when they buckle up. For reasons as insane as not wanting to upset their tan or crease their clothing.

Truth is, you’re likely to suffer horrific injuries if you’re in a crash with your belt this way. Placing the shoulder strap of the seatbelt under their arm leaves your upper torso — including your neck, face and head - completely unrestrained during a collision.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has launched a new digital road safety campaign focusing on the misuse of seatbelts by women. The campaign is entitled ‘Don't get this season’s killer look’.

A study of 300 women aged 17 to 34, undertaken in 2016 on behalf of the RSA, found that some 28pc admitted to misusing a seatbelt by wearing it under the arm, rising to 35pc among younger women. The study also found that 53pc of those interviewed said that their friends wore the seatbelt in this way.

The main reasons cited for wearing the seatbelt under the arm were to relieve neck tension and for general comfort. However, 9pc said it was to protect their tan and 7pc said it was to protect clothing.

The belt should be worn diagonally across the wearer’s chest on their shoulder and never under the arm. If it feels uncomfortable, adjust the height of the belt on the anchor point on the door frame, or adjust the seat position and height. Most importantly of all, avoid getting ‘This season’s killer look’ because you didn’t wear your seatbelt properly.

The RSA sought the input of Gerry Lane, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Letterkenny General Hospital in Donegal, in developing the campaign.

The campaign, will also be promoted on the RSA social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram with the campaign’s official hashtag #KillerLook.

While seatbelt compliance is consistently very strong among young females, it’s not universal. For instance, 23pc don’t always wear a seat belt as a rear passenger.

Injuries to body following improper seatbelt use:
Head: Collision with windscreen can result in severe facial scarring, and in some cases blindness. Brain injury, neck spinal injury.

Mouth: Impact with the steering column or dashboard of a vehicle can cause severe damage to teeth, leading to victims needing extensive dental repair. May knock teeth down throat, shatter jaw, block airway.

Neck:  Being thrown violently forward in a collision can cause serious injury to the neck and head, and may require surgical repair. May result in paralysis and/or partial or total paralysis.

Torso: Spinal damage caused by impact requires the wearing of a full-body cast (not always, only in "minor cases"), and may result in partial or total paralysis, life changing injuries. 
Abdomen: Internal lacerations caused by improper seatbelt use can require extensive surgical repair, and may involve the victim requiring a colostomy bag for life.

Arm: Extreme fractures may need to be surgically repaired with metal rods and pins. 
Leg: Extreme fractures may need to be surgically repaired with metal rods and pins.

Now, can we get back to common sense instead of vanity?

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