Car safety is more than just brakes and seat belts. This may come as a surprise for some of you, but your car’s floor mats play an important role in this issue.
Before floor carpets and mats were developed for use in cars, drivers used to gamble with fate, with their feet slipping and sliding on the car’s slick rubber floor when attempting to brake or accelerate. That can cause an accident and serious injury to both driver and passengers.
These days, car interiors come with matching car carpets that have a base layer made of rubber with an added high-grip polymer coating that prevents the carpet from slipping across the car’s floor surface. And floor mats are added anti-slip accessories that enhance the car’s safety by preventing the driver from losing control underfoot.
While floor mats have increased car safety over the years, they have not been infallible. In 2009, the floor mat was at the centre of Toyota’s largest-ever vehicle recall in the USA. It was prompted by a fatal crash that was concluded to have been caused by loose or incorrect floor mats used. The car’s pedals likely caught the edge of the floor mats, resulting in the deaths of four people.
CHECK THAT THE FASTENERS WORK WELL
There are several steps you can take to ensure that your car’s floor mats don’t pose a threat to you while driving. The most important is to make sure that the mat stays secure in the footwell. Most car manufacturers have a hook system that fastens the mat to the floorboard, while others use a button-type fastener. Whichever the case, it’s always good practice to make sure these fastening systems are actually working. Test to see if the floor mats slip at the slightest scuff of your shoes. If the fasteners are worn down, replace them as soon as possible.Drive SafeDrive S
THE DANGER OF STACKING FLOOR MATS
Many drivers place an additional rubber mat on top of their original mats to keep them clean. Stacking mats may save you time on cleaning but they can be dangerous. The new mat may not have a fastening device to hold it securely, and it may well break loose and wedge itself underneath the car’s pedals, jamming the accelerator.
REPLACE MATS WITH HOLES & DEPRESSIONS
Constant use of the mats causes wear and tear; over time, this can lead to holes and depressions in the mat. While these are unsightly, the more important issue here is that the holes and uneven surfaces can cause your shoe to get stuck in the mat while you are driving and interfere with the safe handling of your car.
It’s always best to get stock parts, but if you are getting mats from the aftermarket, take note of the size and design variations. The idea is to ensure that the mats you intend to purchase sit snugly in the footwells and that are no odd bits jutting out. Prod and tug at them to check that they don’t easily dislodge and slip around. It’s best to get mats with fasteners that are suitable to your car’s make. The material of the mat is important, too. Some mats are made with inferior materials that tend to bunch or lift up under constant pressure — an unwelcome distraction that is potentially dangerous.