“Ban lap-only seatbelts,” says NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild president Jacqui Madelin.
Using a seatbelt is safer in a crash than using no belt. But lap-only seat belts cause far greater injuries than three-point belts.
“The problem is that because they’re legally fitted, drivers don’t realise the damage they can do. Any seat that features a lap-only belt – usually the centre rear seat – should only be used as emergency seating,” she said.
Passengers restrained by a lap-only belt fold over in the event of a crash, and suffer devastating bowel and spinal injuries.
“These days car companies do an immense amount of work to improve the safety of vehicle occupants. But fitting a car with a lap belt undoes much of that work,” Madelin says.
“We’re not suggesting cars already in New Zealand are removed from the roads. What we’d like to see is a ban on all vehicle imports – new or used – with lap-only seatbelts fitted. That will make little difference in the short term – though some manufacturers may be inconvenienced. But it will see a gradual improvement in the safety of NZ’s vehicle fleet,” she says.
“The centre-rear position is arguably the safest in the car if there are three-point seatbelts fitted,” Madelin says. “Yet your chances of suffering severe injury in even a moderate impact are increased if you’re restrained by only a lap belt.”
“The Motoring Writers’ Guild recommends you avoid seating passengers in any position with a lap-only belt,” she says. “A lap belt is always better than no restraint – but we’d prefer to see buyers boycott cars fitted with anything less than the full complement of three-point belts.”
The New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild is the professional body for the country’s automotive media. It membership comprises over 40 specialist motoring journalists in the print, broadcast and internet-based media.
For further information contact:
Motoring Writers’ Guild president
0274 751 521
Motoring Writers’ Guild vice president
027 686 3711