Incorrect seatbelt use risks lives

Trauma director Jeremy Hsu shocks Nine reporter Belinda Russell by showcasing the impact of seat belt injuries.

The NSW Government’s Centre for Road Safety has revealed the horrific consequences of incorrectly wearing a seatbelt under the arm or travelling in a reclined seat in a moving motor vehicle.

Shocking footage, filmed at the Centre’s Crashlab facility, demonstrates the injuries inflicted on two crash test dummies in a vehicle travelling at 60 km per hour. Westmead Hospital director of trauma Dr Jeremy Hsu was at the crash test to provide a medical analysis of the results.

“The most striking feature of the impact when the seatbelt was under the dummy’s arm is that it was essentially bent in half,” Dr Hsu said. “All the force is applied to the abdomen which would result in injuries to the liver, spleen, small intestine, large intestine, anything within the abdomen.

“Even though the airbag was deployed, the impact from the bend is so significant that I would be worried about brain injury as well as a spine injury. It’s potentially life-threatening, and even if it’s not life-threatening it could result in permanent disability.

“The reclined seat is really interesting. The seatbelt has worked but it hasn’t worked as effectively as it would if someone was sitting up in the proper driving position.

“You can see significant impact to the head and face onto the steering wheel and it looks like that the airbag is up but actually once it deflates the steering wheel is bent, so there would be a major risk again of brain injuries, facial fractures, facial bleeding and spine injury in the neck.

“You can also see with the knees and legs that there is a slight submarining where they’re sliding forward into the steering column and the knees have taken the impact which drives the femur, the thigh bone, back up into the pelvis – so I would expect a femur fracture, possibility on both sides, and a pelvic fracture as well. Both of those are associated with significant bleeding.

“Again, this patient is what we call a multi-trauma as there are injuries to multiple parts of the body, so a very high-risk of death and a very high risk of permanent disability.” Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said at the start of Yellow Ribbon National Road Safety Week the crash test footage will hopefully serve as a warning to road users to prevent deaths and serious injuries.

“More than 12,000 people are seriously injured each year on our roads and last year 392 people lost their lives in NSW. Through shared responsibility, both drivers and passengers looking out for each other, help us to bring this down,” Minister Pavey said.

To view the Crashlab test footage please visit: For more information on the NSW Centre for Road Safety’s Crashlab visit: