How to Unlock Seat Belt After Airbag Deployed

The deployment of airbags during a vehicle collision can be a lifesaving event because it provides a cushion against impact forces. It is designed to rapidly inflate upon collision, providing a cushioning effect between occupants and hard surfaces within the vehicle such as the steering wheel, dashboard, door panels, etc.

However, when airbag is deployed, it often leaves occupants in a state of confusion on how to unlock their seat belts. Knowing the proper procedure for unlocking the seatbelt is very important as it ensures a swift exit from the vehicle to minimize the risk of injury.

Therefore, in this article, we will explain how to unlock a seat belt after airbag deployment, offering a step-by-step guide for motorists in such situations.

How to Unlock Seat Belt After Airbag Deployed

A step-by-step guide on how to unlock seat belt after airbag deployed:

Step 1: Assess the Situation

Immediately after an airbag deploys, it’s natural to feel disoriented and panicked. Take a moment to assess the situation calmly. Check for injuries and ensure that everyone in the vehicle is conscious and able to move.

Step 2: Locate the Seat Belt Buckle

After assessing the situation, locate the seat belt buckle. This may seem obvious, but in the chaos following an accident, it’s easy to overlook the basics. The seatbelt buckle is usually located near the hip area, and it’s important to identify it before attempting to unlock the belt.

Step 3: Depress the Release Button

Most seat belts are equipped with a release button on the buckle. Press the button firmly to disengage the locking mechanism.

Ensure that you are pressing the button accurately, as fumbling in this critical moment can be frustrating.

The button is typically located on the top or sides of the buckle, and a quick examination will reveal its position.

Step 4: Apply Gradual Pressure

If the release button doesn’t seem to work, apply gradual pressure to the seat belt while still pressing the button.

Simultaneously pulling the seat belt away from your body while pressing the release button can help overcome any resistance from the locking mechanism. Be cautious not to use excessive force, as it might cause damage to the buckle or the belt itself.

Step 5: Wiggle and Maneuver

If the seat belt remains stuck, try wiggling and maneuvering it to loosen any potential jams. Sometimes, debris or the force of the collision can cause the seat belt to become entangled.

Gently shake the belt while maintaining pressure on the release button to encourage the locking mechanism to disengage.

Step 6: Utilize Emergency Seat Belt Cutters

In extreme cases where the seatbelt is jammed, emergency seat belt cutters can be used as a last resort. These tools are designed to quickly and safely cut through seat belts without causing harm to the occupants.

Nonetheless, for you to be able to use a seat belt cutter, you need to purchase and keep it within easy reach in your vehicle, preferably stored in a location that is easily accessible in case of an emergency.

Step 7: Remain Calm and Assist Others

Throughout the process of unlocking the seat belt, it’s crucial to remain calm and assist others in the vehicle. If you have passengers, communicate with them and guide them through the steps.

In situations where panic may set in, a calm and collected demeanor can make a significant difference in ensuring a safe exit from the vehicle.

Do Seatbelts Lock When Airbags Deploy?

Yes, sometimes, seatbelts can lock when airbags deploy because the seatbelt system is designed to work in conjunction with the airbag deployment during a collision to protect vehicle occupants.

After a collision, seatbelt systems have features such as pre-tensioners that prevent the seatbelt from releasing, keeping the occupant securely restrained in the seat. When a collision is detected, the pre-tensioners engage to tighten the seatbelt which ensures a secure fit for the occupant before the airbags deploy.

This post-collision locking helps to maintain the occupant’s position, especially in situations where a secondary impact might occur.

Do Airbag Bags Open if Seat Belt Isn’t Fastened?

Yes, airbags are designed to deploy regardless of whether the seat belt is fastened or not. The decision to deploy airbags is primarily based on the severity of the collision as detected by the vehicle’s sensors.

While seat belts are a critical component of occupant safety and are strongly recommended to be worn at all times, their status (fastened or not) does not directly influence the deployment of airbags.

In the event of a collision, the vehicle’s sensors assess various factors, such as the speed and force of the impact. If the collision is severe enough to meet the predetermined threshold, the airbags are deployed to provide a protective cushion for the occupants.

What Will Happen if a Person Hitting the Airbag is not Wearing a Seatbelt?

If a person is not wearing a seatbelt and a collision occurs, several consequences can arise when the airbag deploys, such as:

  • There will be a Suboptimal Restraint: Seat belts are designed to work in conjunction with airbags to provide optimal occupant protection. Without a seatbelt, the effectiveness of the restraint system will be compromised. The airbag alone may not be sufficient enough to prevent the occupant from moving forward excessively during a collision.
  • Increased Risk of Injury: Without the restraint of a seatbelt, an unrestrained occupant may be at a higher risk of colliding with the interior of the vehicle, such as the steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield, even with the deployment of the airbag. The effectiveness of airbags is significantly enhanced when used in conjunction with a properly fastened seatbelt.
  • Ejection Risk: In severe collisions, an unrestrained occupant faces a higher risk of being ejected from the vehicle. Ejection is a serious and potentially fatal outcome that is largely preventable with the use of seat belts.
  • Secondary Impact Risks: The deployment of the airbag is meant to provide protection during the initial impact. However, an unrestrained occupant may experience secondary impacts within the vehicle as it comes to a stop. These secondary impacts can increase the risk of injury.
  • Airbag-Related Injuries: The force with which an airbag deploys is significant, and without the restraint of a seatbelt, there is a risk of sustaining airbag-related injuries. These injuries may include abrasions, bruises, or more severe injuries if the occupant is too close to the deploying airbag.

Seat belts and airbags work together as part of a comprehensive safety system. The combination provides enhanced protection as the seat belt helps to keep the occupants in the proper position for the ideal functioning of the airbags.

How Does Airbag Deploy During Collision?

Here’s an explanation of how airbags deploy during a collision:

Modern vehicles are equipped with a network of sensors strategically placed throughout the vehicle. These sensors constantly monitor various parameters related to the vehicle’s movement, including acceleration, deceleration, and impact force.

  • When a collision occurs, the sensors detect the rapid changes in velocity and deceleration, signaling that a crash is underway.
  • Once the sensors detect a collision, they send a signal to the airbag control module, which is a computerized system responsible for managing the deployment of the airbags.
  • The airbag control module quickly analyzes the data received from the sensors to determine the severity of the collision and whether airbag deployment is necessary.
  • If the collision is deemed severe enough to warrant airbag deployment, the airbag control module activates an igniter within the airbag system.
  • This igniter initiates a chemical reaction in the inflator, which is a metal canister containing a mixture of chemicals, including sodium azide. This reaction produces a rapid and controlled release of nitrogen gas.
  • The released nitrogen gas fills the airbag, causing it to inflate rapidly. The airbag inflates within milliseconds of the collision, and the entire process is designed to be much faster than the blink of an eye.

However, the deployment pattern of airbags is carefully designed to protect the head, chest, and upper body of the occupants, depending on the type and location of the airbags.

After inflation, the airbag begins to deflate almost immediately. The rapid deflation ensures that the airbag does not hinder the ability of the occupants to exit the vehicle.

In some vehicles, post-collision safety measures are implemented. For example, after airbag deployment, the vehicle might activate features like automatic door unlocking or hazard light activation to assist occupants and emergency responders.


In the aftermath of a collision, knowing how to unlock a seat belt after airbag deployment is important for the safety of everyone in the vehicle. You need to follow the steps outlined in this article to be able to unlock your seatbelt after the airbag has been deployed. Remember, staying informed and prepared can make a significant impact when seconds count the most.