As winter shifts into high gear in the Bridgeport area, you must refresh your cold-weather driving skills. After all, with decreased visibility and less traction often comes a higher likelihood of an automobile collision. To stay safe during inclement weather, you should always wear your seat belt every time you drive or ride in a vehicle.

Seat belts are clearly effective at saving the lives of both drivers and passengers. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that without seat belt usage, some 15,000 individuals would have died in motor vehicle accidents in 2016 alone. Still, vehicle safety restraints sometimes contribute to serious injuries themselves. Health care professionals refer to these injuries as seat belt syndrome.

Skeletal injuries 

The force in even a moderate-speed collision can be extreme. If you are moving down the highway and something suddenly stops your vehicle, your body continues to move until something else stops it. Naturally, having your seat belt prevent you from hitting the steering column, windshield or pavement is a better alternative. Nonetheless, your seat belt may cause your collar bone, ribs, spine or pelvis to fracture.

Muscular injuries 

The muscles and connective tissues in your body are also susceptible to seat belt injuries. When your body presses into your car’s restraint system, you may develop muscular tears, ligament strains and other soft-tissue injuries. Furthermore, because your seat belt holds most of your body in place, the unrestrained parts may sustain an injury. Whiplash is a common injury among seat belt users. 

Internal injuries 

In rare instances, internal injuries may also occur even when using a seat belt properly. If you break a rib, for example, it may protrude through your lungs. Alternatively, a broken pelvis or vertebrae may put your bladder, kidneys and spleen in danger.

Even though seat belt syndrome may occur after an automobile accident, you should always take full advantage of your car’s restraint system. Nonetheless, following any crash, you should seek a full medical evaluation to be certain that your seat belt has not caused you to sustain a serious injury.