How does a Seatbelt save lives?


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Out now, wherever you listen to podcasts. Okey -dokey, is everybody in the car? Everyone’s present and accounted for. Wait, where’s Kevin? I’m right here, Mom. Did you bring snacks? I’m hungry. Yes. Are we there yet?

We haven’t left the driveway. Honey, have you seen my glasses? No. Mom, can you please pass me a snack? I can’t. I’m holding the baby. Ah -ha -ha -ha. The dog’s hogging the seat again. Bark, bark. Just climb into the back, Kevin.

Okay, have you seen my comic books? Ah -ha -ha -ha. Ah, found my glasses. Off we go. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Excuse me, but isn’t everyone forgetting something? Snacks, comic books, glasses, baby, Kevin?

Nope, all good. No, no, not good. Pat, very bad. I beg your pardon, mister. Who are you, and how’d you get in our station wagon? I’m the trusty narrator, and you and your family are in serious danger.

Honey, just start driving. We’ll drop him off at the park. No, no, no driving yet. Psst, smarty pants, can you please tell this nice family what they need to do before driving a single inch? Just call it out.

Yep, I heard most of you say it. You need to buckle your seat belts. Oh, what’s a seat belt? Huh? You know, buckle up for safety, click it or ticket. Mom, what’s this weird guy talking about? First of all.

I’m not weird. And secondly, how do you not know what seat belts are? Huh, it’s not ringing any bells. They’re the straps with the buckle. Look, they’re right. Wait, where are they? Whoa, whoa, whoa, this car doesn’t have any seat belts.

No, but it does have AM FM radio. Listen. Wait, what year is this? This guy’s worse than I thought. Should we drive him to the hospital? It’s 1952. What did you say your name was again, fella? I’m the trusty narrator from the future.

And we’re at a time before cars had seat belts. So how were seat belts invented? When did they become something you find in all cars? And when did it become a law that you had to wear one? Who is this guy talking to?

It’s time for another whiff of history and science on Who’s smarted? Who’s smarted? Who’s smart? Is it you? Is it me? Is it science or history? Listen up. Everyone, we make smarting lots of fun on who’s smarted.

Putting your seat belt on as soon as you get in the car is probably second nature by now. But believe it or not, there was a time before you were required to wear a seat belt. In fact, there was a time before there even were seat belts.

If you’re from the future, are there flying cars? No, cars are still on the road. What about comic books? Are there superheroes in the future? You have no idea. But let’s get back to seat belts. In the 70 years from where we are now, the world has learned a lot about safety, namely wearing seat belts.

Do you want to visit the future? Yes, but how? Easy. all narrate us there. Imagine a world decades from now where over 90% of American adults have access to a car. There’s over 400 different varieties of cars when you consider type, make, and model.

Big cars, tiny cars, super fast cars. Imagine car windows rolling down and doors locking automatically with the click of a button. Hmm, there are even cars that run on electricity. But one thing all cars in the future have in common is seat belts.

Really? Really. Everyone wears seatbelts, and not just because they’re installed in every car, by law, but because people have learned that seatbelts keep you safe during a collision or a sudden stop.

I take it the cars of the future are a lot faster and more dangerous. That’s why seatbelts are needed, right? Actually, today’s cars are way safer because they’re built with safety features like anti -lock brakes, airbags, backup cameras, blind spot detectors, shatter -resistant glass, and headlights that shine in the direction you’re turning.

Wow, those sound pretty cool. Yep, but of all of those new fangled inventions, can you guess what keeps passengers safest? Say it with me, smartypants. Seatbelts. Okay, but if seatbelts are so great, how come our car doesn’t have any?

Because for a long time, car manufacturers weren’t required to include seatbelts in their vehicles, so they didn’t want their product to be perceived as dangerous. Seatbelts suggest you need protection.

It took a real change of perspective for people to understand that no matter what kind of automobile you drive, car travel contains risks. But wearing a seatbelt reduces that risk. So what made people change their perspective?

Well, it wasn’t just one thing. In 1961, the first state in the United States made a law that required passengers sitting in the front seat to wear seatbelts. Can you guess which state, and why? Was it A, Michigan, because of their snowy winter roads?

B, Maine, because Moose kept wandering onto the road and causing accidents. And… Or C, New York, because the state needed to keep tourists and locals safe in speedy taxi cabs. If you guessed C, New York, and its speedy taxi drivers, you’re right.

But at the time… just like our family here’s car. Not all automobiles even had seatbelts. So New York also became the first state to require all new cars be made with at least anchors for potential seatbelts.

Then Wisconsin took it a step further, requiring that new cars be created with actual seatbelts. By 1966, all states had joined Wisconsin with similar laws, and in 1968, seatbelt installation in all new cars became a federal law.

Of course, 1968 was an entire decade after seat belts were invented, and even then, they were only being installed in front seats. Hey, what about us back here? We’ll get to back seats, car seats, and kids in a minute.

But first, you have to realize the seat belt laws created in the 60s only required cars came with seat belts. There were few laws about people actually needing to wear them. What’s the point of having a seat belt if you don’t have to wear it?

Exactly, Kevin. They needed to create a law to get people to wear them. But when? Imagine a decade of big hair, neon -colored clothes, music videos, and me in parachute pants. It’s 1984, and once again, New York State leads the way in seat belt safety by requiring front seat drivers and passengers to wear seat belts.

But even today, those laws vary state by state. Wait, if not every state requires seat belts to be worn, why would people want to wear them? Well, to solve that problem, they brought in a couple of dummies.

Is that a riddle? Yes, think about it, smarty pants. The answer right after this quick break. Hi, Trusty here with a special message for all the parents and guardians listening. I know how important it is for your child to excel in every way possible, especially when it comes to education.

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It’s not nice to call someone a dummy. That’s right, Cindy Lou. But I’m not talking about a person. I’m talking about a crash test dummy. Uh, what? Crash test dummies are life -sized figures kind of like mannequins, only they’re designed to move, bend, and bounce just like a human would in a car crash.

They first showed up in 1949, but they’re still around today testing the effects of car accidents and seatbelts. During the mid -1980s, TV commercials featuring crash test dummies led the way in getting the public to start wearing seatbelts.

Listen. Vince, get up. Safety belt test at nine. Hurry. Not another windshield test. Count me out. What? The old pro backing down from a motorhome? Nothing like that. I’m just tired of trying to convince people to wear safety belts.

No one’s listening. So how’d a bunch of talking dummies get people to wear seatbelts? I’ll let my friend Smash explain. Welcome, Smash, the crash test dummy. Hi. Wow, these dummies are very life -like.

Hey, we are not dummies. Sorry. I saw people driving without seatbelts. I assumed you were doing a crash test. A crash test? A crash test is what me and my buddies do to figure out what would happen to a person in an accident if they were or weren’t wearing a seatbelt.

And the way to do that is to put us in a car and then crash it. Ow. So what have crash tests shown? Heh heh. A lot. Ever heard of kinetic energy and inertia? Kinetic energy is the force of an object in motion and that object’s ability to make an impact, like a moving car crashing through a wooden fence.

Inertia is a law of physics that says an object in motion will stay in motion unless it’s stopped by an external force. You with me so far? I think so. Now, if you’re driving fast down the road and then slam on the brakes, the car will stop going forward.

But do you know what will continue going forward? Here’s a hint. It’s something inside the car. What do you think, smarty pants? What else is in motion inside a moving car? Did you say the passengers?

That’s right. You can put brakes on your car, but you can’t put brakes on the passengers. Their bodies will continue moving through space, thanks to inertia. That’s why you jolt forward when the car stops suddenly.

Without anything to stop your body, you’ll keep moving forward in the direction the car was going, until you collide with another object. Hey, smarty pants. Next time you’re in the car, look around. Or if you’re listening in the car right now, take a look at what’s in front of you that would stop your forward motion.

If you’re sitting in the back seat, it’d probably be the seat in front of you. But if you’re in the front seat, it’s… Yikes! The windshield! If only there was something that could keep you from continuing to move forward.

I know! A seat belt! That’s right. A three -point seat belt is the perfect device to anchor your body to your seat. Three -point? Yep. When worn correctly, a seat belt forms a triangle shape across your body.

Whichever shoulder it’s crossing and your hips, make up the three points a seat belt needs to hit to do its job. Two -point seat belts, like the kind you wear on an airplane, don’t control your torso and head as effectively, which is why seat belts cross your body.

But, Smash, how does a seat belt actually work? I’ll show you while Trusty Narrator narrates. Smash, an experienced crash test dummy, enters a test car. She buckles her seat belt across her chest and lap.

She starts the car and drives. Faster. Faster! Oh boy! She’s headed right for a brick wall. Don’t worry, folks. Smash is okay. Now, let’s check the video footage of the crash. In particular, let’s zoom in on the seat belt mechanism.

Just below Smash’s seat, there’s a spool that spins, allowing the seat belt to be adjusted to a person’s size or movement. And we call that wiggle room. As the test car hit the brick wall, Smash continued moving.

moving forward at the same rate of speed, thanks to inertia. However, the spool feels the belt jerking against Smash and Locks. No more spinning. The belt isn’t budging. Instead of flying forward into the windshield, Smash remains in her seat.

Smash, that was amazing. You’re like a comic book superhero. Nah, I’m just doing my job. The real hero is the person who invented the seat belt. Who is that? As far back as the late 1800s, two -point seat belts were created and put to use.

At first, for aircraft pilots and eventually for automobiles. But while they were an important step in the right direction, it’s the three -point continuous -strapped seatbelt that stood the test of time and is still used today, 60 -some years after its invention, by Nils Bolin in 1958.

But wait, what about the back seat? It’s a common misconception that the back seat is safer, but let’s be clear. Seatbelts save lives. Your chance of safety is always better when you’re strapped in. However, there’s one person in this car that shouldn’t wear a seatbelt.

Who? It’s better if I hold the baby. What? No, that’s super dangerous. And it’s crazy to think people used to drive like that. No. Shortly after the seatbelt was invented, a child safety device known as the car seat was born in 1962.

Just like seatbelts, the car seat also took time and several models to catch on. It wasn’t until 1979 that Tennessee became the first state to require small children to ride in car seats as law. And it wasn’t until 1985 that all states had similar laws.

Here, I brought you a car seat from the future. Thanks, but we won’t be needing it. Really? Even after everything you learned about seatbelts and car seats? Oh no, we’re not going on our road trip. We’re not going anywhere until we have a car equipped with seatbelts.

Everyone back in the house. Let’s have a snack and watch our new Zenith television. Yay! Sounds good to me. Wait, where’s Kevin? A big shout out to River in Orlando, Florida, who says, who smarted makes the ride to school fun?

And I learned lots of cool things. it’s not a boring adult show like when Mom listens to NPR. Ha ha, thanks for making us laugh, River. And thanks, Mom, for letting River smart with us on the way to school.

You can always listen to NPR on the dry back. This episode, Seatbelts, was written by Jenna Hoban and voiced by Jenna Hoban, Adam Tex Davis, Jason Williams, the amazing Katie Lou Chastain as Cindy Lou, and Jerry Colburn.

Technical direction and sound design by Josh crash -tested Han. Who Smarted is recorded and mixed at the Relic Room Studios? Our associate producer is Max Carseat -Kamaskey. The theme song is by Brian, Buckle Up Suarez, with lyrics written and performed by Adam Tex Davis.

Who Smarted was created and produced by Adam Tex Davis and Jerry Colburn. This has been an atomic entertainment production. Buckle up. Who Smarted.