Make it click, save your life

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ProActive Driver tutor Jonny Kirkpatrick makes sure Ashburton College Year 12 student Matty Cornish-Madden has the seatbelt in the right position for best safety. Photo Toni WIlliams

The seatbelt is one of the most important safety features of a modern vehicle, says driver safety tutor Jonny Kirkpatrick.

But it’s only effective if it’s being used and being worn correctly; sitting across the shoulder/sternum and across the hips.

These are the strongest points of the body and will help reduce injury on the rest of the body in an accident, especially a high speed accident, of which the impact is violent

Mr Kirkpatrick, of ProActive Driver – a youth driver education trust – was one of six specialist tutors taking Ashburton College Year12 students through various aspects of road safety education during the Rotary Youth Driver Awareness programme at the Hotel Ashburton this week.

“Make it click, just like the ads say. It’s hands down the most important safety feature by a long shot,” he said. “You’re not helping yourself if you’re not wearing it.”

It is also less effective if it’s defective (with nicks or cuts) or twisted when worn; both ways reduce its strength by up to 50 per cent.

It’s meant to restrain you against the seat and keep you in the seat.

It won’t do that if it’s not full strength.

Mr Kirkpatrick spoke about the safety features of modern vehicles and the benefits of ANCAP safety ratings of four and above; the higher number the better and meant multiple airbags (eight to 12) covering driver and passengers.

There was also anti-lock braking systems (ABS brakes) to prevent the vehicle sliding or slipping, crumple zones in modern cars designed to take the impact of a crash, and autonomous emergency braking, electronic stability control and side intrusion bars.

“Insurance will buy a new car, but not a new you,” he said.

He also demonstrated – using the driving skills of Bob in a Suzuki Swift – the stopping distance of a vehicle driving at 30km/h and how when driving at double the speed, it quadrupled the stopping distance even with a full assortment of braking systems.

He said the function of vehicle safety features was primarily to protect drivers from having an accident, and secondarily to protect those in the vehicle during an accident.