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.