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Skip Navigation LinksThe 5-Point Harness

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The Speedvision World Challenge 5-Point Harness

This point is really more of a warning than anything else. I'd hate to see someone get seriously hurt because they thought they were improving the safety of their ride but really didn't know what they were doing.

A racing harness is a safety feature that saves lives when used correctly but there is much more to using one than simply bolting it to your car and strapping in. A safety harness has to be part of a complete system of driver protection. If not used properly, it will do more harm than good and this will explain a few reasons why. Bear in mind that I'm not an engineer so there is much more to this than what you'll read here. This should at least give you an understanding of what could go wrong. Before changing anything you should carefully consider what you do and do not know about safety and how to modify systems that are there to keep you alive in the case of a mishap.

If you're only installing racing harnesses for looks, then have fun with it but when you're driving, wear the stock belts. Any San Diego personal injury attorney would advise using as many safety features as possible to prevent serious injury.

If you want it for added safety, there are things that must be in place first. The first, and also the least likely that you've even thought of, is a proper roll cage.

Even slow cars roll over now and then. Consider what will happen to you, in your harness, if you should end up in a rollover crash. With the stock seat belt on, your body is free to lean over into the middle of the car as the car rolls and the roof is crushed. If you've got a harness holding you firmly in place in the middle of the seat, you're going to stay upright and probably either lose your head or almost certainly break your neck. You'll be left dead in a crash you would otherwise have crawled out of mostly in one piece.

That is probably the most obvious and easy to understand example of how what you thought was making you safer is actually placing you in danger. Another example has to do with where the safety harness is bolted to the car. I've seen plenty of cars with the harnesses bolted to the floor behind the seat. The belt then comes up and over the shoulders, either over or through openings in the seat. With this setup, in a front end collision when your body is thrown forward, instead of simply holding you back in your seat, the harness can pull straight down on your shoulders, compressing your spine and doing serious damage.

When you start messing with the safety systems in a car, it is extremely important to realize that you're not an engineer and do not understand all the complexities of what you're dealing with. While you think you're making an improvement, you may well be taking a big step backwards in safety.

There's a reason stock belts are designed the way they are. To get added safety from a harness, you need a roll cage. Then, with a roll cage, you either need a whole bunch of padding or you shouldn't be driving without a helmet. You can see how this all becomes pretty impractical for a street driven car.

Your harness CAN be useful if you're autocrossing though, where there's pretty much nil chance of a rollover, but realistically your racing seats are going to provide all the bolstering you need so you still don't need the harness to hold you in place.

I urge you to keep all this in mind before diving into these sorts of modifications. It's literally your life on the line here.


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