Not every older car comes standard with seat belts. Although they made their way into cars in the mid-1950s, they did not gain wider recognition. Today, few people refuse to wear seat belts because they have proven to be effective in saving lives and health. Does not wearing a seatbelt conflict with current laws? How to deal with it? You can find out everything in this article!
Beginnings in America
Today it seems inconceivable to us, but in the past the topic of car safety was completely ignored. The exceptions were the corporations Mercedes and Volvo, which showed interest in the development of the crumple zone of their vehicles. Others considered seat belts controversial and unnecessary.
Interestingly, seat belts were already fitted in 19th century carriages and appeared in aircraft in the 1920s! And in cars, the first steps towards improving safety were made by Henry Ford only in 1956! And praise him for this, because it is difficult to imagine the consequences of not accepting this idea.
On the Old Continent, the first three-point seat belts were born, supporting the hips, abdomen and chest. They were shown during a demonstration of the Volvo PV 544 prototype in 1947, but this model with a three-point seat belt did not appear in factory cars until 1959.
The innovative solution was gaining more and more supporters. In the 1960s the universally accepted view of the importance of seat belts was adopted, which led some countries to begin requiring seat belts to be worn while riding in the front seat. In Poland, compulsory seat belt wearing in the front seats began in 1972, and in 1983 legislation was introduced for compulsory seat belt wearing outside built-up areas. In 1991, the obligation to wear seat belts also began to apply on construction sites, including seat belts in the back seats.
Why are seat belts so important? During an accident, especially in a head-on collision, it is very important to maintain the body of the driver and passengers, as this proportionally affects the injuries, or chance of survival. It is worth noting that a person sitting in the front seat without any protection can die in a frontal collision with an obstacle at 30 km/h!
These frightening figures should alert absolutely all classic car owners. For legal and moral reasons, it is absolutely forbidden to transport people in a car not equipped with seat belts! Even in its simplest form (three-point, inertia) a seat belt can hold a passenger’s body next to the seat. In a frontal collision, the driver experiences tremendous acceleration (can cause internal injuries), but will not be “thrown” from the seat or hit parts of the car with great force. If rear passengers do not wear their seat belts, they will hit the front seat backs in a frontal collision, breaking them and seriously injuring or even killing the occupants.
Although some antique cars do not have physical belts, they are very often equipped with factory holes to which belts can be attached. Finding and installing one should not be a big problem for a classic owner. If you’re suffering from a lack of time, your local repair shop can certainly take care of you.