But they can also cripple you for life. That's according to CBS News.
Think about the seatbelts in your car. Most of them go over your shoulder and across your lap. A so-called 3-point seatbelt. But in millions of cars, the seat in the middle of the backseat only has a lap belt. And safety experts say a lap belt isn't enough to protect people in a crash. Especially children between 5 and 12 years old.
In fact, automobile seatbelt injuries to children have a name: "Lap belt syndrome." In crash test videos, child-size dummies wearing only a lap belt sometimes jackknife completely in half over their seatbelt. Which almost guarantees internal injuries, and severe spinal cord damage.
For years, car manufacturers have resisted putting 3-point restraints in the back seats of new cars. They always cite profits, even though it would only cost them about $15 bucks per car. And what parent wouldn't be willing to shell out $15 dollars to keep their kid from being disabled for life.
So, what's being done about it? Fortunately, the federal government recently passed a law requiring 3-point belt in every backseat by 2007.
But in the meantime, remember that a lap belt is better than no belt at all. And if someone has to sit in the center backseat, make sure they're over 12 years old.