Seatbelts are one of the most important safety items found on modern vehicles, and while modern cars are packed to the brim with active and passive safety features, this is the one you’ll rely on to be kept in your seat when the worst happens. But what happens if you can’t use a regular seatbelt?Seatbelt extenders come in various ‘sizes’, although this applies more to the length by which they can extend the standard setup. They can be either flexible or rigid in construction. Originally, the idea behind seatbelt extenders was to make life easier for adults who could not use standard seatbelts, allowing them to still have the benefits of safety from a seatbelt. These have been used in car and airplane seats safely for many decades.At some point in the 2010s, car designers started making rear-seat seatbelt buckles flush with the seat – although stylish and less cumbersome for back-seat passengers, it did mean that installing a child car seat safely became challenging. It also meant that older kids in booster seats couldn’t reach the buckle to learn to fasten and unfasten their seatbelts themselves. Seatbelt extenders became the solution for securing seats and allowing older kids the independence of buckling themselves in and out.This wasn’t what these extenders were designed for, however, and in a landmark case in the USA in 2013, a young child from Tennessee was involved in a car accident while strapped into his seat in the family Nissan using a seatbelt extender. Despite the fact that the seatbelt extender in question was produced by Ford, the Nissan owner’s manual explicitly warns against using such extenders, and the family sued the Blue Oval as the little boy suffered a traumatic brain injury as he was thrown from his seat.The issue isn’t always the extenders, but with how they are used. Despite this, they are readily available in online stores such as Amazon and eBay. But are they really safe?