IF you suffer from aquaphobia – the fear of water or drowning – the Escape Belt from Dutch company Fijen could be for you. This aftermarket device fits onto the existing seatbelt-release mechanism and unclips the belt automatically when the unit is submerged in water. The patent is remarkably simple; it consists of a spring-loaded mechanism that is held in place by a salt trigger. Life jackets use the same type of trigger to activate the small gas canister that inflates the jacket when it comes into contact with water. Do not be worried that a spilled cool drink will activate the water escape belt; water needs to enter the unit from the bottom, for example rising water when the vehicle has plunged into a river or dam.
This system should save valuable seconds and help with the recovery of unconscious passengers. However, the problem remains that opening a door of a submerged vehicle often proves far more difficult than releasing a seatbelt.