Seatbelts and Airbags: The ins and outs

Updated Aug 09, 2019 | Same topic: Survive driving in the Philippines

Get to know more about seatbelts, airbags and get all the vital info about them!

More than often seatbelts and airbags are given perfunctory attention! This article will clear everything up and more info for safer driving with them. A must-read for the smart-driver!

Modern cars aren’t made to be rolling coffins but life-saving capsules that keep everyone safe. For concerned individuals who are serious about teen driving, strapping in children to cars seats and other relevant safety issues that involve seatbelts and airbags, this is a must-read.

This will be a vital primer to know them better, not as simple devices but how they work and everything else about it.

seatbelts and airbags

Modern cars aren’t made to be rolling coffins but life-saving capsules that keep everyone safe

Modern cars have many active and passive safety features that keep everyone in one piece in a collision! Yes, most would rave about the active electronic features like electronic stability control, crash mitigation systems, and other sophisticated safety features.

It comes down to the seatbelts and airbags to keep everyone from getting banged up. Car makers have added seatbelts and airbags as the last line of protection to keep passengers unharmed.

They become active until triggered by a drastic change in driving. All cars that are bought should have this standard equipment, including Isofix as a standard, not an option.

Saving a few on better seatbelts and airbags is a no-no and pure suicide to boot! Most sub-compacts to keep cost down, have only basic options, but some have dual airbags and Isofix.

Seatbelts and airbags

I. Seatbelts 101: All about them

Seatbelts aren’t just “seatbelts” because it secures all passengers to their seats, for safety. More than often this is looked over and is taken for granted by most motorists. For better seatbelt options, most premium cars are the way to go, but it’s different for budget lunches. Premium models should be prioritized because of added components to the seatbelts installed in them. These components add a new dimension of safety to them.

Common accidents like getting thrashed about and worse being ejected through the windshield violently can happen to unsecured occupants. Unsecured children will suffer severe injuries if not strapped in well, or will not survive severe impacts.

>>> Must read: Republic act 8750 on seat belt law in the Philippines: Know it, Follow it

For reference, here are the different kinds of seatbelts that are in use, in most cars.

1. Lap type seatbelt

The most basic belt used on most vehicles, especially the rear seat. Usually, just a belt that crosses the mid-section to secure the passenger to the seat. Lack of support for the upper body is a killer that means death through whiplash and other injuries too.

2. Shoulder type seatbelt

Just like the Lap belt that is just as simple and not advisable to use. The shoulder harness will be just deadly in an accident because the should area is vulnerable to unequal forces during a collision.

3. 3-point ELR

A combination of a lap and shoulder belt that secures the lap and chest area to the locking mechanism securely. One of the most common seatbelts found in most cars today. It is better to get ELR seatbelts that are equipped in the backseat for two passengers for better safety.

3-pt ELR seatbelts

A combination of a lap and shoulder belt that secures the lap and chest area to the locking mechanism securely

4. Belt-in-seat type

Not all cars are equipped with belt-in-seat type, it’s the 3-point ELR type but connected to back seat. This is best for children and keeps them locked in, no matter what! Get the better peace of mind because it cannot be adjusted easily.

5. Automatic type

No need to secure this 3-point ELR type because once it is connected, it self-adjusts automatically. Not very common but can be found in some cars.

automatic seatbelts

No need to secure this 3-point ELR type because once it is connected, it self-adjusts automatically

6. 5-point harness

The 5-point harness is used in most super-cars to secure the driver. Compared to ordinary production cars, most supercars need better seatbelts to secure the driver.

7. 6-Point harness

Taking the concept of the 5-point further by adding a groin belt that secures the driver on the seat better. Usually, F1 and high-speed motorsports are the application for this.

8. Isofix

An attachment point for car seats to be more secure than regular attachment points. Usually found in most premium options and some lesser models.


An attachment point for car seats to be more secure than regular attachment points

Learn more safety tips for seatbelts on

*Must haves: Pretensioner and Load limiter

When it comes to seatbelts, having a pre-tensioner and load limiter will help in reducing injuries suffered from analogue seatbelts. These two mechanisms aren’t available on all options, especially sub-compacts due to the extra cost. Better to get a car equipped with these options to protect the passengers better.


This differs because it prevents slack in the belt, and tightens to pull the passenger into the seat to secure them better. One problem with airbags is that it needs a certain distance to be effective or it can injure adults or kill children. Children aren’t as durable as adults so having a pretensioner is best for child-friendly cars.

Load limiters

If pretensioners pull in the passenger, then a load limiter will minimize possible injury by preventing the seatbelt getting too tight! This system will save children from severe injury when the belts tighten, by giving a bit of slack.

Many premium minivans and sedans have seatbelts and airbags installed in them, and SUV s too. Having the usual 3-point ELR seatbelt will do, but it can be better.

seatbelts pretensioner and load limiters

Having a pre-tensioner and load limiter will help in reducing injuries suffered from analogue seatbelts

II. Kinds of airbags installed in most cars

No car is complete without an airbag system in place, and the usual dual airbag is found on even the cheapest models, but it can be better. The problem with dual airbags is that it only keeps the front passengers protected not in the back seat. Sometimes the “budget lunches” will have notoriously bad rear seatbelts that are compromised by basic airbags. Higher models have more effective airbag systems. To protect passengers better, the addition of several airbags types will increase the safety factor. Here is a broad knowledge of airbags you should know before finding out different kinds of airbags.

1. Dual airbag

The most common type found on even the budget models, located in the front dash of the car.

2. Side airbags

These are found in premium sedans, SUV, pickups, and most luxury models but not budget lunches. Triggered and deployed on the side of the passenger, to keep them from injury. Hard surfaces like the door; and the window can kill or cause concussions, but side airbags will minimize injury.

3. Curtain airbags

In the event of a catastrophic collision and the car rolls over because of it. The heads of the passengers are prevented from hitting the side and other hard surfaces. But many premium and slightly more than budget price cars have this system in place.

4. Knee airbags

Catastrophic collisions can injure passenger’s legs unknowingly or cripple them. The knee airbag protects the lower legs by preventive keens from knocking into the seats. Not all cars have these options and are found on better that budget cars.

seatbelts system in car

No car is complete without an airbag system in place

Equipping cars with a full complement of airbags are important but costs more. To be sure it is better to avoid sub-compacts that have only the basic dual airbag system. Get the higher option that offers better protection. Knowing seatbelts and airbags will make a difference in getting a safe car to drive.

III. Seatbelts and airbags: Final thoughts

It’s about time that drivers should know more about seatbelts and airbags, to better understand how significant they are! Knowing what any car is equipped with, will make a difference. If the car is driven is a sub-compact, but a higher ender stands a good chance of less injury.

Having a pretensioner, load-limiter, a full airbag set, and 3-point ELR seatbelts for the best protection. Standard dual airbags and seatbelts will save a life, but it’s a 50/50 at most. Just bear in mind the consequence of how safety features like seatbelts and airbags are important, not just a random feature.

Finally, remember to visit for more useful safety tips when behind the wheel.

Norjan Ismail Abbas

Norjan Ismail Abbas


Norjan enjoys writing about various topics, and car is among them. Don't ever ask him which his most favorite car is since he has none. He believes each car is beautiful in its own way.

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