Safety system

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Safety System

  • Definition: A group of safety items, designed to work in conjunction with each other.

How extensive your system needs to be depends on where, how, and with whom you drive.

For the most part, we all have a safety system already in place. This is the safety system that comes pre-installed in your car. It includes your seats, your seat belts, your steering wheel, and sometimes your dash board. In most cars since the 90's, the system also includes airbags. Many cars since the late 90's even have ECU controlled pre-tensioning lap belts that automatically cinch down when rapid deceleration is recognized. This factory system will serve you well through your first few years of non-competitive on-track driving.

When you start getting into competitive time trials, or even advanced, open passing DE levels, it is recommended that you upgrade your safety system. A basic add-on system would be a DOT approved street harness, making sure it is approved for your car, and has anti-submarining technology. This system still uses any airbag system as a back-up to the harness.

Race harnesses require a little extra forethought. Since they are used instead of factory seat belts and mounting points, you must take into account proper mounting. In most cars, to do that requires a harness bar for proper alignment with your shoulders (to prevent spinal compression), modification of the stock seat (to accommodate the anti-submarine strap) or completely new seats (to accommodate proper shoulder harness fitments.) Keep in mind, that when strapped into race harnesses, your airbags are now mostly useless. It is highly recommended that a head and neck restraint device be used in conjunction with race harnesses, even for DE use.

  • Roll bars

There are as many opinions on roll bars as there are ways to fabricate them, but it is this author's opinion that when upgrading to harnesses, and when moving to competitive events (even non wheel-to-wheel events like time trials) a roll bar should be incorporated into the safety system. A basic 4-point bolt-in roll bar with integrated harness bar and diagonal rigid bar will go a long way in solving two extremely important issues with harnesses: proper installation, and proper roll-over protection

When preparing for competitive, sanctioned events, a 6-point cage is usually a minimum requirement. Be sure to read any and all current rules and regulations for the sanctioning body and the specific class you plan on competing in.