Which? slams poor seat belt designCar makers accused of complacency over safety

04 January 2007

There is still a dangerously complacent attitude to safety among some car manufacturers according to a survey by Which?

The latest safety tests have revealed that poor seat-belt buckle design in several cars could cause them to be accidentally released by flailing arms in an accident. That would leave occupants vulnerable to injury or even risk being thrown from the car in a crash.

Poor belt buckle design

Cars made by Chrysler, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Volvo all had models affected by this type of buckle design – the 2006 Volvo S80 has poor belt buckle design in both front and rear seats.

Which? has called on all those manufacturers to change the buckle design on the affected models, but so far only Volvo has agreed to look into the problem. Other models affected were the Chrysler 300C 3.0 diesel, Honda Civic 1.8, Mitsubishi Grandis 2.4, Nissan X-Trail 2.2, Nissan Note 1.4, and the Subaru Legacy Tourer 2.0.

Upper leg damage

Upper leg damage also accounts for a large proportion of serious injuries in front-on crashes. Disappointingly, all the cars Which? tested recently had insufficient protection in this area.  Among the models that failed to come up to scratch were the  Chrysler 300C 3.0 diesel, Fiat Sedici 1.6, Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 diesel, Mitsubishi Grandis 2.4, Peugeot 207 1.4, Seat Leon 1.6, Skoda Roomster 1.4, Suzuki SX4 1.6, Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 and the VW Eos 2.0.

Which? applauds the trend towards using the Isofix system of integrated child car seats, with metal catches welded to the car body. But, the design and construction can be dangerously confusing.  Both, the Nissan X-Trail and the Skoda Roomster fell short in these areas.

Complacency

Which? pioneered the development of a safety rating system more than 20 years ago and is disappointed to find complacency among some manufacturers.

Neil Fowler, Editor of Which? said: ‘Modern cars measure up well against their ancestors, but there’s no room for complacency where safety’s concerned. We’re still finding basic safety problems with many new models and we’ll continue to lobby car manufacturers for improvement.’