AAA (the American Automobile Association) recently released a reminder for people who wear puffy jackets to keep warm in winter. They’re ideal for keeping the body warm from the particularly cold weather. However, when it comes to riding in a vehicle and having a puffy jacket under a seat belt, they’re more of a liability than anything else.
How Do Puffy Jackets Affect Seat Belt Use?
Children, in particular, are at risk when puffy jackets are worn under seat belts. Seat belts are necessary no matter how young or old the passenger is. That’s because they offer ideal protection for one’s brain and spine during impact, and slows the body down as well. In order for seat belts to be able to properly do their job, they need to be worn snugly and as close to the body as possible.
This means that layers of clothing and/or padding will make fitting the seat belt more tricky. While a puffy jacket could very well seem to have a snug seat belt, during impact, the jacket might end up compressing. That means plenty of gaps and space will end up creating a loose seat belt connection more than anything. In those cases, the passenger might end up ejected or sliding through the restraint. It’s the same logic that accompanies kids who are in booster seats, really.
There should never be twists in harness straps; flat is ideal for safety more than anything. The driver will know it’s snug if extra webbing or strap material is not pinched whatsoever at the shoulder area of the child. AAA spokesperson Lilla S. Mason points out that the number one cause of death of children up to 13 years old is car crashes. That’s why parents absolutely must have their kids buckled in with no jackets or anything first. If there’s still cold to deal with, they can have their jackets laid out. Barring any of that, if there’s a blanket at hand, then it can be tucked under the child.
- Bottom line: Seat belts should not be fitted to the jacket at all. They must, at all times, be fitted to the passenger, and that’s all.
Read on for AAA experts’ tips on having a child safely buckled into their seat during the winter months when it’s particularly cold:
Before the trip starts, make sure the car is warmed up – If the car is heated, that means passengers won’t really feel the cold weather as much. That means they won’t feel the need to wear a jacket and, in turn, wear seat belts comfortably.
Make use of a hat and blanket – Tuck a blanket around a child after a seat belt is secured. Avoid fitting a seat belt over any blanket, though. The latter would be counterproductive.
Wear a thin coat during the drive – For as long as you’re in the car, use fleece outerwear instead of puffy jackets. They’re great for staying warm while wearing seat belts.
Recently, the AAA put out reminders when it comes to puffy jackets and seat belts. Children, in particular, are at risk if layers create a gap that can lead to them slipping through or ejecting during impact. Expert tips include wearing a thin coat instead, using a hat and blanket, and warming the car before a trip.
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