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Motoring Writers Call For Lap Belt Ban

Immediate Release April 25, 2008

Motoring Writers Call For Lap Belt Ban

“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 do.

“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.”


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