Seat Belts, What of it?

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1194668jc
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Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by 1194668jc » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:43 am

I was going through Mac's catalog for Model T Fords and noticed that they were selling seat belts to be installed into the cars. At first I thought, "what a joke." But after giving it some thought, I began to wonder if installing seat belts would do any good for the passengers... The car was never designed with car crashes in mind, clearly with the lack of any passenger restraint systems. But if a T were to get into a crash, a high speed one at that (maybe 45-50 mph), could the seat belts potential save the passengers from injury/death?

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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by George N Lake Ozark » Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:42 am

Mine has them for two up front Dad didn’t install in rear. Don’t know why but in Missouri back seat passengers aren’t required. Already had some fights with passengers in my modern car

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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Dan B » Mon Jul 13, 2020 6:50 am

If the past is any indication, this post will generate lots of discussion but no good real answers.

This would sort of be like if you asked whether seat belts should used while driving a tractor.
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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by TRDxB2 » Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:11 am

I've been wearing seats belts since 1962 after seeing the aftermath of an accident at the end of an Interstate entrance ramp. A station wagon crashed into a light pole with very little damage and the rear window was open. There was a body on the pavement in the outside lane with a towel over above the torsos' shoulders and tire tracks to the rear wheels of a semi trailer about 150ft down the road. I could also mention several accidents needing helmets. If not for you - for your grandkids


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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by John kuehn » Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:38 am

A what if, could be, ought to, depends on situation, in the best interest of, and etc response for the question.
Seat belts in anything that moves? But as Dan says it’s all over the place.


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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Mark Osterman » Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:42 am

Glad I didn’t have them when my T turned turtle after someone cut me off in traffic years ago. I would have died.
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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Jem » Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:48 am

Working tractors here have to have a roll cage, most have an air-conditioned cab and are quite fast; seat belts would seem quite sensible.

Going back to vintage vehicles, belts won't help in a major accident but they will stop you coming out of the seat under heavy braking or a swerve. I know a couple who were thrown over 20ft from a 1902 Peugeot in a head-on, suffering life-changing head injuries. Strapped in they would have still been injured, but different injuries.

Horse-riders routinely wear helmets and many now have waistcoats which are 'wearable air-bags'. My motorcycling son has leathers that are heavily armoured. If you are being utterly logical, we ought to be wearing crash helmets and body armour in any moving vehicle.

The rear axle locked up on my T at walking pace, threw my wife and daughter into the back of the front seat (no injuries) - belts would have stopped that.

On balance I would vote for belts.


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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Norman Kling » Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:17 am

It depends a lot on which T you have, and how the accident occurs. In a typical rear or front end crash which is not real hard, the belt would keep you from hitting the windshield or back of front seat, however it would not have a shoulder harness in an open car and so you could hit the steering wheel. In a crash which separates the body from the frame, the belt would keep the people in the body unless the belt is anchored to the frame. If anchored to the frame might cause very serious injuries or death when the body separates from the frame. In a roll over accident, especially in an open car the belt would keep you inside the body and possibly crush you under it.

Now I will give you a couple of accidents which I saw but did not experience. Both happened in Model A's but would be very similar to what would happen in a T.
1. A roadster with no top was found upside down at an intersection and the sheriff and many people were standing around. No one was in or under the car. A while later two teenagers came walking up and said they were in the car and were thrown out or jumped out when it rolled. They had gone to have a cup of coffee! If they had been belted in, it might have had a different outcome.
2. A coupe was going down the street front of our house. A neighbor backed out of the driveway and hit the coupe in the side, rolling it on the side. A few men in the neighborhood came and set the coupe back on it's wheels. The driver had seen the accident coming and ducked under the dashboard. He was not injured and drove the car away from the scene. One of the doors was very badly bent up, but the car could be driven. In that case, I don't know what would have happened if he had been belted in, but he couldn't have ducked under the dash.
Anyway, the modern car is made much safer, and keeping one in their seat with a belt and shoulder harness is the best way to go. But in the older cars, the belt might not be of much help or even possible danger.
Norm

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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Steve Jelf » Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:21 am

I'll get to Model T's next, but first my take on belts in general. If I had a dollar for every media report along the lines of "died when he was ejected from the vehicle" and "was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene" it would add up to a tidy sum. My own personal experience has taught me to belt up every time. I believe my 1966 crash would have killed me if I had not been wearing a belt when I fell asleep and drove into a tree at 50 mph. In 1972 the right front tire on my Jeep wagon blew out and the vehicle rolled. I came through without a scratch. After those experiences I don't need a seat belt law or an electronic alarm to remind me to do the smart thing.

I must confess that I haven't yet installed belts in my Model T's, but I expect that I will. There is only one kind of Model T wreck I can think of where being belted is questionable. That is a rollover in a touring or runabout, of course. So that leads me to two questions. 1 How many dangerous Model T wrecks are rollovers? I think most crashes are not. 2 When there is a rollover, which is the greater danger — being crushed, or being ejected? It may be a tossup, but I suspect it's the latter. From newspaper accounts I believe the recent death and serious injuries in Montana were the result of ejection in a rollover.

Fatal Model T wrecks are pretty rare. I can think four in the past decade or so, but perhaps there are others. It would be good to have a study of how people have died in Model T crashes. It might be helpful in deciding how to play the odds. Has any such study been done?
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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by DanTreace » Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:29 am

FL safety belt law applies to any driver or passenger over 18 to be belted in the front. Then of course more laws for child restraints, as little tykes and kids under age can't ride in the front. FL exempts school buses, taxis, and tractors, and motorcycles, etc, and exempts vehicles not covered by Fed law, which exempts vehicles prior to '66 for lap belts, and prior to '72 for shoulder safety harness restraints.

So legally my T's are exempt, except went it comes to hauling children around, as those child restraint laws are separate. i.e. child carriers, etc.

My '27 touring is the only one with front belts, as there is good place to secure at the frame/body mount bolts under the front seat pan for a lap belt. If mounting lap belts you have to choose a secure point, that may limit one to install lap belt. And installing a shoulder safety harness restraint is likely out of the question for a T.

The lap belts in the touring were placed for the daughter's peace of mind, and mine, hauling their young ones, but really for only movement to keep the child seated, and not jumping around. But today all kids are so use to a belt, they would put it on anyway.

For me, never wear that lap belt in the '27 touring. In my moderns, yes with the shoulder safety harness.
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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Susanne » Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 am

I'm not sure which way I am on this. We had a roll bar installed in the Miata because even though the windshield frame was supposedly designed to carry the weight of the car on it, in an accident there are more forces than that. Since that's the only thing that keeps the car off where my head was if the wheels go up, it made sense, and since, when harnessed / buckled in, you're not escaping to anywhere.

While the odds of a T going "wheels up" are pretty long, I can still see it happening. Try going up a hill, the engine dies, you start rolling backwards... and the steering does what it does, eg cocks the wheels hard.

Hard choices. Is it safer to be ejected, or to have the car land on top of you?

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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Steve Jelf » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:14 pm

Is it safer to be ejected, or to have the car land on top of you?

And which is more likely to happen in a wreck? My guess is ejection, but it's just that — only a guess. I'd like to see that study I mentioned: What has actually happened in the real world?
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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by George Hand » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:28 pm

It all would depend of the circumstances of an accident, but one would have to decide if one would fare out being in an accident trapped in a tin can with a toothpick superstructure or fly with the birds. Both are not good options, be safe. George

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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Squirrel » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:29 pm

If I wanted to be safe, I'd probably drive something else....

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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by RajoRacer » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:35 pm

Good point, Jim !


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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by John kuehn » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:58 pm

That’s the best answer yet!

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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by JvanMaanen » Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:09 pm

For me, I have lap belts installed in my model A coupe and my MGTD that are tied to the frame, for safety, law and insurance requirements. The model A could maybe stand up under a roll over, the MG would be questionable. For the T's no belts, but I don't drive them at above 35 either. I realize it is getting tougher to get out and drive at 30-35 even in round town traffic. But speed does have an effect on what happens. These cars were not designed for speed even though on a smooth road they will do it, doesn't mean you should. I am lucky in that the highest speed on San Juan Island is 45, but over the years it is getting harder and harder to drive an antique car without an SUV glued to your backside. Always assume someone is going to pull out in front, or do something else you didn't expect. Drive defensively and stay safe.

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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Russ T Fender » Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:25 pm

My concern, especially on the early cars, is that the body itself is not adequately anchored to the frame to withstand any major impact. So, if you secure the seat belts to the body you will go where it goes but, worse yet, if you secure it to the frame you and the seat belt may wind up holding the body to the frame. There is an inevitable risk inherent in driving a vintage car with or without a seat belt and I doubt you can quantify which option is safer. Do whatever you think best and drive as if everyone else on the road is out to get you!


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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by SurfCityGene » Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:20 pm

The Late Ralph Ricks was a big proponent of belts in a T. He convinced me to install them in my '12 Torpedo. We both have four wheel brakes and his Metro brakes could put any passenger into the front windshield with his panic stops he liked to demonstrate. The insurance industry says most auto accidents occur to the left front of the vehicle. Driving our T's I always am watching for the modern car to suddenly hit the brakes to turn into a driveway OR pulling out in front of me when your not able top stop or veer to avoid the impact. Making turns at an intersection is another high risk area.
You can never predict or be sure about the after effects of a rollover accident in a T. The most recent T rollover accident the passenger somehow stayed in the car even without a seat belt! The driver was ejected and died as a result of impact with the ground well clear of the car.

We must be aware whenever we drive our Model T cars out on the roads that there is always a possibility of an accident or mechanical failure. We each have to decide how we want to try and protect and avoid such accidents as best we can.

Drive Safe and Watch Out for the other guy and Enjoy the ride...
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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by JohnM » Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:46 pm

I think seat belts could be helpful keeping children still and in their seat while just driving down the road and reduce injury in minor incidents. Beyond that, the best safety device in a model T, is the one between the driver's ears.

The rudimentary, and no nonsense character of the model T is part of what I love about it. But that means I am solely responsible for myself and passengers. There is NO device on the car to compensate for that! Not even bumpers!


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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by 2nighthawks » Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:56 pm

John M.

That's EXACTLY the reason I put seat belts in our depot hack! While always careful when driving these old "flivvers", I am never more careful that when I have grandkids in the "T" with me! I would like to make a particular point of adding that I am careful to install them is such a way as to serve only that one function,....to know that grandkids, especially little ones, can't be jumping around and accidentally fall out. The belts are merely anchored to the wooden depot hack floor, and with enough force, would merely pull the wood screw out. If anchored more securely, (like to the frame) it is possible to have a serious accident whereby the body is trying to be separated from the frame but is merely prevented from doing so by a seatbelt strapped over a little childs' body! Perish the thought, right?


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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Jerry VanOoteghem » Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:13 pm

There are dozens of scenarios, real & hypothetical, of how seat belts could save you.... or injure you. Bottom line is this, seat belts are NOT stand-alone safety devices. They are one element of a safety system. They, and the cars they are installed in, are designed to work together, as a system. Model T's were not designed with such elements in mind, nor were seat belts designed for use in a Model T. When you add an "odd" element to a system for which it was not intended, you will yield unintended results.

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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Steve Jelf » Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:32 pm

Model T's were not designed with such elements in mind, nor were seat belts designed for use in a Model T.
Quite true. But the Willys and the Kaiser in which I had my wrecks were not designed with seat belts in mind, and I'm here today because I installed them. Granted, a Model T is much more primitive than a 1953 Willys pickup and a 1964 Kaiser wagon, but I believe that even in a T belts are likely to improve your odds in most circumstances.
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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by OilyBill » Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:35 pm

My personal opinion is "Ejection from a vehicle is ALWAYS worse than staying in it."
A few years back, a Model A was cutoff during a high-speed chase, by the fleeing driver. The car rolled. The driver was OK, because he had the steering wheel to hang onto, which he did, just barely. His wife, in the passenger seat, was tossed out when her door opened. When the car rolled, it ended up with the running board across her throat, with her under the car. If there had been seat belts, they might have both survived with nothing more than bruises. A Model T or Model A body is just one big crumple zone, absorbing and dissipating energy as the accident unfolds.
Even in an open Model T, seat belts will reduce the severity of injuries, and will certainly save lives. I keep hearing about bodies separating from the frame. Where has this happened? I can see this only in the very earliest Model T's. Any Model T after 1910 is pretty well attached to the frame.
Remember, it takes plenty of force to shred your Model T. Hopefully, by the time the force gets to you, it has dissipated enough that you won't be seriously hurt.
That doesn't apply to speedsters, which have no body to speak of. But I would still prefer a lap belt in an accident in a speedster. Some protection is better than NO protection.


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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by DHort » Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 pm

Ken Meeks car rolled. She survived, he did not.
Montana 500 car rolled. One survived. One did not.
My Speedster is made of plywood. I would rather be thrown.

Guess my odds are 50:50

Maybe I should stay home on the couch and surround myself with pillows, but that is no fun.

I am 65. I will take my chances. If it is my time, it is my time.

Drive it like no one can see you. They do not see Harley's either.

Let's go for a ride.

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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by TRDxB2 » Tue Jul 14, 2020 12:16 am

Where's Richard? Hint: He didn't land in a traffic lane and get run over
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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Erik Johnson » Tue Jul 14, 2020 12:36 am

The purpose of seat belts is to avoid what is called the "secondary collision" of the occupants inside or outside of the vehicle. That is, upon the vehicle's impact, the occupants inside the vehicle remain in motion until they themselves hit another object - inside the automobile or if they are ejected, outside the automobile.

An example of a secondary collision within the vehicle would be an occupant being slammed into the windshield. An example outside the vehicle would be an ejected occupant hitting the pavement.

Seat belts are most effective if there is "room to live" in the passenger compartment after the collision.

This can be done in two ways:

1) the vehicle is so heavy and well constructed that it doesn't get damaged when hit by another vehicle and the passenger compartment remains intact. Modern automobiles are not designed this way.

or

2) the vehicle is designed with crumple zones that absorb the impact and end up damaged leaving the passenger compartment relatively intact with room to live. This is how modern vehicles are designed.

Antique automobiles are not designed like modern vehicles. While seat belts may eliminate ejection from the vehicle, that doesn't do any good if the passenger compartment is crushed.

When you drive an antique car, you are taking a gamble. If you want protection, you are probably better off wearing motorcycle armor and a helmet rather than installing seat belts.


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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by JohnM » Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:22 pm

Other than as I stated earlier about using them to restrain children, or for adults in minor incidents, I agree with Squirrel and Erik.

We are accustomed to being highly compensated for our inattentiveness in modern vehicles with lane assist, automatic braking collision avoidance and antilock brakes et al. The Model T is the antithesis and IS a dangerous vehicle. Accepting and being fully aware of that, by making good choices of when and where to drive and even who the passengers are, and as someone stated earlier "As if you are invisible" will greatly reduce the risk of accidents and injury.


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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by John kuehn » Tue Jul 14, 2020 5:33 pm

This has been an interesting post and with lots of ideas.
I think we need to remember as others have stated that Model T’s aren’t really all that safe
to begin with with what we nowadays are use to.
When they were built it was less than a generation from horse and buggy’s. There were no seat belts, hand holds, or much else to keep you from falling out on rough roads or rolling over. Most people didn’t but some surely did. Safety wasn’t a big factor in that era and people were still using wagons and horses to a degree. We do the best we can now to try to be safe with our T’s considering where and how we drive them.


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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by tiredfarmer » Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:05 am

There is one thing that hasn't been mentioned fire. I knew an old mechanic that was a volunteer firefighter. He never put on a seatbelt because he had seen to many people belted in an automobile while it was burning. In fact every time he went to town and was stopped by a policeman and got ticketed, he told the policeman to stay there because he was coming back the same way and could give him another.

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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by DLodge » Wed Jul 15, 2020 9:24 am

DHort wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:57 pm
Ken Meeks car rolled. She survived, he did not.
I've been thinking about that during this thread. I'm afraid that the hard and fast rule is that there is no hard and fast rule. Their open car rolled twice. Marge was ejected as it started to roll the first time. Ken was not belted in, but was fairly tall (to me, most people are fairly tall) and was kept in the car by the steering wheel. In other words, she left the car early in the accident and survived, he stayed with the car through the entire accident and didn't.

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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by TRDxB2 » Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:04 pm

Without referencing a particular event, lets consider possible outcomes. Newton’s First Law, the “law of inertia,” that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. When a vehicle comes to a sudden stop, its passenger will continue to move—and possibly get ejected from the vehicle, depending on variables such as the vehicle’s deceleration, frictional forces between the occupant and their seat, and even the surface of the road. But to put this in a proper perspective vehicles do have some "crush" to absorb, decelerate, some of the impact (T's much less than Today's vehicles). Putting all the Physic's calculations aside, how the accident happened, occupant position or rollovers; just some what if's
If ejected at 10mph: consider the landing zone from a vehicle: busy intersection, road surface (concrete, black top, gravel, dirt), grassy knoll, bridge abutment, wall etc) and don't forget the age of the occupant and their ability to sustain the impact on that surface (likely less than the initial 10mph) and how quickly they would come to rest (immediately on a wall, possible sliding on some road surfaces...)
Then consider the outcome if not ejected in the above scenario variations.
Finally at what impact speeds do you think having or not having seat belts would not make a difference to the ability to survive or not survive an accident. Now decide for yourself and your family which way you want to go.


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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by ThreePedalTapDancer » Wed Jul 15, 2020 1:37 pm

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I would consider seatbelts in a closed car, open car no seatbelts. Over the last 20 years or so there has been a variety of fatal accidents with open Ts. Some were ejected and died, others were seatbelted in and died from crushing injuries. Truth be told, a helmet would probably be the best safety equipment while riding in a T due to the amount of head injuries. It all depends on the type of accident and the physics involved. The accidents above were slow speed rollovers, and the occupants were thrown clear and survived.


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Board Member Since: 1999

Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by SurfCityGene » Wed Jul 15, 2020 4:26 pm

Nice pictures and unfortunate times.

I believe there are many more accidents with Model T's that we do not ever hear about.... People don't want to admit or publish and others are just not that news worthy because of the absent of a fatality. I don't think that's because there wasn't an injury but was just not serious enough to warrant a news story. I would bet in these accidents a passenger secured in the vehicle would have fared better had they been restrained in their seat?

I guess there should also have been a posting of the Montana car that rolled with the passenger remaining inside and surviving to complete the story.

The thing that most interests me about these accidents is what was the cause??
1912 Torpedo Roadster


tdump
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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by tdump » Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:30 pm

without a head restraint system,the torso being held in place while the "bowling ball",the head,is allowed to wiggle around,is not a good thing.
Crushed or thrown,I aint so sure either are a good choice.but being held in place is not 100% ideal either.

https://theconversation.com/how-to-redu ... ents-58799
Modern cars are designed for seat belts.Remember,there is a head restraint behind your head in a modern car,what is back there to catch your head in a T?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wCgmaG3Zgw
This is a good explanation of how brain injury can happen in a rearender wreck.I know the last minute or so is a ad but still,a good watch for people who may not understand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55u5Ivx31og Another explanation.

I have commented some on this subject in the past but I do believe if a person wants seatbelts,it is their car and their life,I would not stand in the way.BUT UNless it is all drawn up by a engineer,and it is crash tested,it may open a whole nother can of worms if it causes a death.
If you can't help em, don't hinder em'


Tmodelt
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Re: Seat Belts, What of it?

Post by Tmodelt » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:37 am

In the state of Illinois, IF installed (even though not OEM) they MUST be used or face legal action. That said, I will add another iron to the fire concerning injuries sustained and fault accepted when placing seat belts in your antique auto and not using them if and when an accident occurs.

I am placing restraining devices in my speedster that I am presently building as I am planning on driving it briskly. Installing a hidden roll cage also under a removable hard top.

Just my thoughts to add to the confusion. HA!

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