KUALA LUMPUR: The lapbelt installed in the middle rear seat in many cars have been associated with fatal injuries.
The seatbelt syndrome, which includes severe abdominal injuries, fracture of the lumbar spine, as well as head and body injuries, because the body, which is not fully restrained, can jackknife over the safety strap.
Although Malaysia does not have formal statistics on fatal accidents traced to lapbelts, the New Straits Times was alerted to one not too long ago in a case that caught media attention.
In the case that took place in Kelantan, a patrol car with a team of enforcers were rammed from behind by a tonto driving a Special Utility Vehicle. The vehicle skidded and hit a tree.
One officer, who was strapped in the centre of the rear seat with a lapbelt, was hurt and taken to hospital.
She was pronounced dead, and her death was linked to internal injuries and intestinal complications she sustained in the incident.
The victim’s post-mortem report, which the NST had a glimpse of, underlined that the cause of death was “bilateral haemothorax”, where blood had accumulated in both lungs.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre environmental health physician and toxicologist Associate Professor Dr Mohd Hasni Ja’afar said there was a huge likelihood the lapbelt, which she had on, caused severe internal injuries during the incident.
“Bleeding occurs when the body continues to move when there are already internal injuries... One can also sustain lacerations to the liver, spleen or bowel system, ruptured bladder and internal bleeding.
“Many of these internal injury symptoms will not be visible at the time of injury... especially
in the case of for occult bleeding, where symptoms may only appear hours after the accident.”