- Automatic seat belts
Automatic seat belts are
seat belts that automatically close over riders in a car.
Automatic seat belts were created to increase safety regardless of user negligence because even when seat belts were available, people often forgot to, or chose not to, use them.
VolkswagenESVW1 Experimental Safety Vehiclepresented passive seat belts [ [http://www.classicvw.org/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.ShowItem&g2_itemId=5498 Experimental Safety Vehicle ] ] . Volvo tried to develop a passive three point seatbelt. In 1973 Volkswagen announced they had a functional passive seat belt [ [http://safetysells.org/chapter3.pdf PDF, Safety sells, Page 50] ] .
One problem identified with the automatic seat belt is that they do not work well with
child safety seats. When air bags became mandatory, most vehicles stopped offering automatic seat belts. The biggest exception is the Ford Escort/ Mercury Tracer, as well as a few other models, which continued using automatic safety belts along with dual airbagsin the 1995 and 1996 model years.
Types of automatic seat belt systems
* Manual lap belt with automatic shoulder belt — When the door is opened, the shoulder belt moves from a fixed point on a track mounted in the door frame of the car to a point at the end of the track. Once the door is closed, and the car is turned on, the belt retracts along the track to a fixed position at the other end of the track. The lap belt must be fastened manually (if equipped). A drawback of this system is that many users forget to fasten the lap belt. A special seat belt modification is needed to use child seats in the front seats in vehicles fitted with this type of safety belt system. A subset of this type are shoulder belts that are fixed to the door of the vehicle, and don't slide. The manual lap belt is the same as in the retractable belts.
* Automatic Shoulder and Lap Belts — This system was mainly used in older General Motors vehicles. When the door is opened, the belts go from a fixed point in the middle of the car by the floor to retractors on the door. Passengers must slide into the car under the belts. When the door closes, the retractors travel down the door. The maneuver required to slide out from these seat belts is awkward, and likely to knock off glasses if the person is wearing them, fortunately the seat belts have normal release buttons that are supposed to be used only in an emergency but in practice are routinely used in the same manner as manual seat belt clasps. Any child safety seats in vehicles using this type of automatic seat belts used must be installed by a dealer.
List of cars with automatic seat belts
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