The Facts About Seat Belt Submarining

Accidents occur each day in the United States. These accidents result in thousands of fatalities on a day to day basis. Many fatalities are linked to the lack of seat belt usage and ejection from a motor vehicle after an accident. There have been many seatbelt campaigns related to seat belt safety such as the “click or ticket” campaign as well as legislation for enforcement of the laws related to seat belt safety. There are however some instances in which fatalities linked to ejection that occur despite wearing a seat belt. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact an experienced attorney at Colombo Law.

Seat Belt Submarining Explained

During a collision, seat belt submarining occurs when an individual slides under the lap restraint portion of a seat belt. There are a variety of circumstances that may cause seat belt submarining. For instance, many times it is the result of a sudden and significant loss of momentum in the vehicle which causes a driver or their passenger to slide down. It also results from ineffective seat cushion design which slides out from under the passenger, creating a space that makes it more likely to have seat belt submarining. Seat belt submarining is a dangerous encounter and exposes the individual to significant injury.

Injuries Linked to Seat Belt Submarining

There are many injuries associated with seat belt submarining. Some common injuries associated with this event include internal bleeding, abdominal injuries, pelvic injuries and fractures to the lower leg and spine. It is important to understand that these injuries can occur in low-speed collisions. In some high speed collisions individuals have been ejected from the motor vehicle. Fatalities linked to seat belt submarining have resulted in both high and low speed collisions. It is important to seek prompt medical attention if involved in this type of accident as any delay in treatment may cause a fatality.

Preventing Submarining

Manufacturers are aware of the risk of injuries due to seat belt submarining and have taken precautions to ensure the safety of drivers and other passengers. There have been changes to the design function of the seat cushions in motor vehicles to prevent passenger sliding during sudden stops. Manufacturers have also made adjustments to the height of the seat belt buckle to prevent the lap restraint from being too high.

Individuals entering a motor vehicle can also take certain steps to prevent seat belt submarining. Upon entering a vehicle, each passenger should ensure that the lap restraint fits securely. Any significant space in the lap restraint creates the ideal environment for submarining to occur. In addition, children who are below the state’s recommended height must be in a booster seat as submarining is more common for small children.

If you or your loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident and have suffered injuries as a result, contact Colombo Law today for a no-risk consultation.

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by Colombo Law
Last updated on - Originally published on