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Take humble advice on restraint devices

Published:Sunday | October 20, 2019 | 1:31 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Automotive Writer

Any device that is designated to hold a driver or passenger in the seat during a crash is called a restraint device. According to the Cambridge School Dictionary, the tem restraint means ‘control over something; something that limits what you can do’. When the devices are used, the passenger becomes part of the motor car.

“Using these devices, reduces the chance of death, destruction, or serious injury because the second crash takes place against the restraint device,” Kanute Haire, Director of Road safety in the Ministry of Transport, reminds us.

There are three basic types of restraint devices: active, passive and child seats.

Let us look at these devices.

ACTIVE restraint devices:

These carry with them seat belts that a motorist has to buckle.

“They provide excellent protection in a crash,” advised Haire.

“These belts must be adjusted properly to give maximum protection.”

He explained that the lower belt should fit snugly across the hips. The fact is, in an emergency, seat belts can help by holding the driver behind the steering wheel so that he can steer to avoid big trouble.


Passive restraints such as air bags and automatic seat belts do the same work as active restraints without the need for car occupants to take any action. The air bag inflates instantly when a car hits an object. The automatic seat belt fastens in place as each front-seat occupant enters the car and closes the door.

The important CHILD SEATS:

When infants or small children ride in cars, they usually have little or no protection.

“A driver should always ensure that small passengers ride in properly installed and approved child seats. If there are no child seats, the child should be buckled into a back seat, seat belt.

For child safety restraint, the Advanced Driver Training centre reminds motorists that one should determine the type of safety seat that is appropriate to the child’s age or weight. If, for example, your child is a new-born to nine months or up to 20 pounds, use an infant safety seat. With this type of protection, the infant rides backward in a semi-reclining position and is held in place by a built-in harness.

If your child is nine months to four years or between 20 to 40 pounds, use a toddler safety seat. In these cases, there are also types of restraints; the Harness and the Booster seat.

Harness in a wrap-around seat:

The Harness comes across both shoulders and up between the legs. The padded sides offer protection. The seat is secured by the motor vehicle’s safety belt. Some models are anchored at the top with a bolt.

The Booster seat:

In this elevated seat, the child is secured by the vehicle’s lap belt and shoulder belt of the special harness sold with the unit. This harness requires an anchor belt.

If your child is over four years, use the safety belt in the vehicle.

In addition to restraint device, other protective devices include:

Head restraints:

These are padded areas on the front seats that protect the occupants whenever the motor car is hit.

Front and rear crash areas:

Newly designed cars have crash areas that increase passenger protection in head-on and rear-end collisions.

Side door beams:

Beams inside car door, reduce the ability of another car to penetrate passenger compartment.

Energy absorbing windshield:

A plastic sheet between the two sheets of glass in a windshield, that helps to prevent heads from going through the windshield.

Energy Absorbing steering wheel and column: Both of these are designed to give under impact.

Padded dash and interior:

Exposed areas are padded and knobs are recessed.

The extreme forces that come to bear in a collision or a high speed tend to rip you loose from your seat and send you flopping on to the pavement or around the inside of the motor car. As motorists with safety in mind on a daily basis, let us make safety be our watchword and song. as the Methodists in the Caribbean and the Americas would say, ‘let it begin with me’.