Jamaica | Mar 2, 2023

Car Care Tips | Seatbelt safety checks

Candice Stewart

Candice Stewart / Our Today

Reading Time: 4 minutes

At some point, you would have heard the phrase, “buckle up” in reference to you using the seatbelt of a car you occupy. Do you actually use the seatbelt? What about checking if the seatbelt is functional and good for use?

For the ignorant among us, here’s a lesson: seatbelts are internal vehicle devices that were developed to minimise serious injuries or reduce the occurrence of death that may result from road accidents. Like any other safety device, consistent checks on its effectiveness is crucial.

As simple as it may seem, many folks do not know what to look for and they take it for granted that their seatbelts will work at optimal performance without regular up-keep.


If your seatbelts are damaged, or you were in an accident, you should have them changed. Consider replacing the belt as well as the buckle with a new one. They should not be second-hand or recycled.

For optimal performance, when you wear your seatbelt, it must be firmly adjusted and comfortable so that it may provide the protection it was designed to give. Any slack in the belt may compromise the safety of the person wearing it. Seatbelts should not be twisted and the lap portion should be worn across the hips.

One person at a time! Your seatbelt must restrain only one person. It is dangerous to put a seatbelt around more than one person. A child being carried on an adult’s lap, for example, is a complete no-no. Depending on the age of the child, you either put them in an appropriately fitting car seat or place them in the regular seat and fasten their seatbelt. 


In order to ensure functionality, seatbelt safety checks should be done. Here are four key things to look out for:

Webbing – You should check the webbing of each seat belt for any cuts, holes and fraying.  If you spot signs of those, it suggests that the belts are worn and could affect your effectiveness.

Buckle – Be on the lookout for any signs of buckle damage. Fasten the seat belt and pull to check if it is secure. You should also check if there is any loose connection to the vehicle. A faulty buckle might mean the belt won’t stay in place or that there will be difficulty unbuckling.

Twisting – A twisted seat belt can lead to further harm. If twisted, on impact, the belt may take all the stress in the twisted area rather than spreading the stress over the entire belt. 

Retraction – this function should be a smooth process. If you notice any slowness, hesitation or delay to the retraction rate or jerking movements, something may be wrong. You should also test the seat belt by pulling on the belt suddenly and quickly – the retractor will lock if the belt is operating correctly.


Despite countless calls to action by all relevant authorities, many folks refuse to use seatbelts. Their reasons range between ignorance and purposefully going against the road traffic laws. There really is no excuse for not using the device that was made to reduce the chances of injury or death.

Always wear your seatbelt. They were not manufactured and placed to act as decorations and gather dust. They were made to protect you. Wear them! This call to action goes for the driver, front seat passenger and backseat passengers.

Let’s end with a message from the National Road Safety Council Jamaica (NRSC):

“When a motor vehicle is involved in a head-on collision or subjected to an abrupt deceleration, if you are not wearing a seat belt, you could be thrown forward with such force that striking the steering wheel, dashboard or windscreen could cause death or serious injuries. On the other hand if the body is restrained by a seat belt, an occupant of the vehicle may sustain primary injuries, which are usually minor.”

National Road Safety Council.

This is the second article in the weekly series, ‘Car Care Tips’ where we highlight various aspects of a car, how to provide care and maintenance for optimal performance while ensuring safety. This series may feature your favourite mechanic or others from the motor vehicle industry.

Read the first installment of Care Care Tips below:

Car Care Tips | Do you know how to inspect your car tyres without immediate help from a professional?

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