5 point harness unsafe in street cars?

Discussion in 'Tracking & Driver Education' started by Fave, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. Fave

    Fave F1 Rookie
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    I have been thinking about putting a 5 point harness in my GT4, for casual tracking 4-5 times a year, nothing competitive. I would need to put a bar across the back for the harness attachment point.

    So today I was doing some searching om info and came across an article about putting a 5 point harness in a street car without a roll cage is more dangerous than good. The reasoning is that if the car were to roll there is no cage the roof will collapse, at least partially, the 5 poi t harness will hold you upright in the seat and your head/neck become the roll cage.

    If there was no 5 point harness your body would tend to slump forward or at least be able to move avoiding the roof crushing your neck.

    I'm sure the chances of rolling a 308 are slim, the chances of a non rolling crash are higher, I'm really not sure what to think with this new info. Is it even something to consider, is the payoff having a 5 point harness greater than this apparent risk?

    What do you guys think?
     
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  3. Schatten

    Schatten F1 World Champ
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    5 or 6 point, which includes the anti-sub belt, preventing you from sliding under the belts, would require a cage so you are covered from up top. Cage requires a helmet. Sure, some people do it without a cage and helmet, but it is up to the owner's risk if something should happen.
     
  4. Fave

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    A helmet of course, but you can install a 5 point without a cage, just a bar in the back...
     
  5. Juan-Manuel Fantango

    Juan-Manuel Fantango F1 World Champ
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    #4 Juan-Manuel Fantango, Feb 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Got both in mine, but no helmet. My risk....driven over 50,000 miles in this state. I'm not taking the roll cage out, so I think the five point is best even though you risk hitting your head. Even though I wear it extremely tight.
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  6. rob lay

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    worse thing you can do is drive caged car on street without helmet, we have lost a couple users to this in Challenge cars on the street.
     
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  8. Juan-Manuel Fantango

    Juan-Manuel Fantango F1 World Champ
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    ohhhhh....very sorry to hear that. Am I correct in assuming head injury? That said I'm fairly sure mine will unbolt vs the welded in cage but I should check. But then again, I don't drive it that often anymore, sadly. Just part of aging I suppose or moving on to other things.
     
  9. Juan-Manuel Fantango

    Juan-Manuel Fantango F1 World Champ
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    Besides, I would look like a double doofus driving around with a helmet on. But to those who know, just stupid for doing it with no helmet and on the street I suppose. Now you have me going. It sure is fun on the twisties on 28 from Clemson, SC to Highlands and beyond. What memories..headed over the Blue Ridge Parkway at night, dead of winter, snow flurries and flashing trees on either side on the way to Franklin and onward to Tail of the Dragon...me, my Challenge, noise and ear plugs. Memories.
     
  10. kverges

    kverges F1 Rookie

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    I'd always thought this a risk, but did not know there were specific examples. Along those lines, even in a race car be sure to pad roll cage tubing with proper SFI padding, not pipe insulation.
     
  11. Fave

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    I've been reading up on the Sparco harness bar, have heard many bad things about them, or at least the cheap eBay versions failing and the drivers hitting the windshield. I'm think a bar would have to be some very strong steel to use safely.
    I'm not putting a roll cage in as I use the car on the road, and for the reasons mentioned above it's too dangerous.

    The 3 point belt can be used for city driving and 5 or 6 point for track. My thinking at this point is, I really want to use a Hans device on the track and as far as I know you need the straps over the shoulders. If I roll in a GT4 my head clearance is an inch at best with a helmet on ( I recently lowered the Sparco race seats as low as they will go ). My chances of hitting a wall are probably greater than rolling and being a 74 with little to no crash protection I figure I'm better off with a harness, bar and a Hans device over the risk of none of these and sticking with the 3 point belt in case of a roll over.
     
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  13. rob lay

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    Jennie and I wear one of those old style open face helmets, look more vintage racer, but still doffus. :)
     
  14. Scalper

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    in my opinion that article is portraying a risk that is completely inexistent

    the roof will not collapse if the car is just sitting still upside down

    in order for the roof to collapse you need to be in a high energy rollover crash, and in that case the forces/accelerations involved will make it impossible for you to lean forward regardless of the type of seatbelt/harness you might be wearing

    do you really believe that in a situation similar to this one you will have any kind of control whatsoever of where your body ends up within the car? in a similar situation you just have to hope that your harness will hold in you in place
    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svzmp56YPY0]Caterham crash at Castle Combe - YouTube[/ame]
     
  15. Entropy

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    this is a great discussion. some random thoughts, all my opinion

    I am very conservative on the track in a street car. I have race cars with cages, seats, harnesses, fire systems, etc etc for when I go 9/10ths or more. If we use a road car, it's a DE session and it's 6/10ths max, and for fun. I"ve seen too much carnage in racing and at DE's to want to go b__ls out in a road car.

    The modern cars (458) are proving to be incredibly strong tubs, amazing how they hold up in some big impacts. I'd venture to say in a "current" road car, I'd stay with the 3pt belts and airbags and just be careful. You could add (real) race seats, a harness bar or cage, properly anchored harnesses, etc if you want (as long as you wear a HANS), but that's a commitment.

    In older cars, I"m unsure how strong the tub is. I'd venture to say that in those cars, getting the right seat and harnesses - installed properly - would be an advantage. For me, harnesses without a corresponding (safe, real) race seat are useless. Keep the 3pt belts for the street.

    I had a 1976 Porsche 930 that over time became a fully converted race car. I added a cage and full-on track setup.

    I've seen many on-track wrecks, I'd love to see data but cannot recall anyone being "trapped in their harness" upside down with a crushed roof. I'm sure it's happened. What I have seen is people in modern (street) cars have their seats deformed, cars crumpled and associated sore necks and airbag burns. Even modern cars are crash-tested, but not spinning backwards into Armco at 130mph.

    One thought, IF you have a cage on the street, you could mount HALO seats which would reduce the head-banging risk. This year IMSA is requiring us to put head/upper body restraint nets on both sides of the driver (and passenger, if applicable) seats. Of course, a HALO seat and nets sort of take away the classic charm of the cars.

    In the end, it's really about what you are comfortable with in terms of balancing the on-street and on-track limits. With our road cars, IF they go on a track, it's for fun and we keep it in check. We're lucky we can feed our addiction with a track-specific car. We even got a Fiat Abarth race car from ANSA...it's not the fastest, but it's set up to be safe.
     
  16. rob lay

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  17. kverges

    kverges F1 Rookie

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    I am not sure I'd say the roll bar made any difference on that one
     
  18. rob lay

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    several have said that, heads and metal even with approved padding don't mix though. same as riding motorcycle without helmet, some will still do it I guess.
     
  19. Madaboutred

    Madaboutred Karting

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    In my 911 it is just impossible even to change the a/c fan speed with a 5point'er
    The correct and safe use for these, is to have you strapped "airtight" to the bucket.
    In my opinion, 5 pointers are a full set with buckets and cage.
    Yet I have to say, that using them in my previous car did save my life when my diff broke and completely jammed the rear axle.
    For a quick moment I said my prayers while the car was deforming after a spectacular jump over another racer.
    So my conclusion is better safe than sorry.
    Do the cage - buckets- harness mod if you want to race and do not try any other combo.
     
  20. myronx19

    myronx19 Formula Junior

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    Fave - the other thing to consider is insurance. I don't think Silver Wheels would love to see that installed in the car.

    Personally, I don't like 5 point belts in a street car for many reasons - and I don't feel comfortable driving a car with a cage and no helmet (for reasons explained above). I had a decent 5-point in my race car, but leaning forward with no inertia retractors sucks in a street car. I always cinched my belts TIGHT, so leaning forward for - well - anything was nearly impossible, if not just difficult.

    A retractor allows you to lean forward for when you're finding change while waiting in line at Tim Hortons.. A 5-point won't allow you that freedom of movement if they're tight like they're supposed to be.

    Why not have both? 5-point for track days, and keep the OE's for street driving?
     
  21. Fave

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    That is exactly what I am doing. I had the original static 3 point belts in the car and they were horrible, I switched them to modern retractor 3 point belts and they will stay in the car for street use.

    For insurance I understand that there is none on the track, and it's a risk we take.

    And that is all this is about, having fun on the track & honing my skills to be a better driver, not shaving 9/10ths of a second off a lap. I just want to lower the risk of injury while doing it. I've been on the track with 430's and 458's, frustrations get the better of people when in a supercar and stuck behind a slow 308, I've seen a few stupid moves due to this, so even at club track days things have a potential to go wrong... That's for another discussion tho.

    I have a real Sparco race seats, not pro but FIA approved, which are being bolted right through the frame. A professional shop will be making the harness bar, not something I'll be cooking up on my own.

    I've worn a Hans device at a NASCAR school, and I've wanted one since then. 60km into a wall is enough to break a neck. I know the chances of a roll over is minimal, but it's worth a thought.

    Long term I may eventually turn the GT4 into a full track car, time will tell. I may get bored and take up golf one day.
     
  22. Schatten

    Schatten F1 World Champ
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    If you want to be held into your seat a little more securely, here are a few freebie autocross tricks.

    - Fasten your three point belt, and snug is securely. Pinch the belt, so it doesn't move, detatch, twist once or twice around, fasten. It will be tight and will not come loose.

    - For a few bucks, you can get a g-force belt, or even take ducttape and tape your torso to your seat. Heck, it works, especially within limitations of autocross rules.

    Proper seats and a harness around a track can be worth a second or two depending on the track. When driving street cars on a track with a three point, I'm amazed at how much I move around when watching videos. I'm constantly adjusting as if shifting weight around on a kart.
     
  23. Fave

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    The 3 point trick makes sense.

    I switched to the Sparco seats as I wasn't just moving a bit in the stock seats, I was holding myself upright with my left leg against the door in turns, I was exhausted and sore as hell after a 20 min run. Just the switch of seats made all the difference in the world.
     
  24. galt

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    #21 galt, Feb 19, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
    If are in a street car driving on the street with an airbag, wouldn't your prefer hitting a wall head on with no 5 point harness and the airbag deploying over hitting a wall head on with the 5 point? I ask because it seems you would be more likely to snap your neck with the 5 point in that situation right?
     
  25. Nuvolari

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    There is no doubt that if you are involved in a roll over that the roof can collapse leaving your upper body with nowhere to go if your car is fitted with 5 point seat belts.

    This reality also needs to be tempered with the likelihood of that scenario actually taking place compared to the added safety benefits that 5 point belts (and the possibility to add a HANS device) provide. Realistically you are more likely to have a crash where the belts and HANS will help rather than an incident where they would harm and it is totally a personal decision as to which path to take.

    In the OP's shoes I would fit 5 point belts but engineer a simple removable roll hoop that uses the stock seat belt pickup points for mounting. Sure a full cage would be better but if you are already fitting a bar to mount the belts to then a few tubes can be added to minimize the risk in a roll over. A well conceived assembly should allow for fast installation via a few bolts with no damage of any kind to the originality of the car.
     
  26. jcosta79

    jcosta79 Formula 3

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    That's why you use a HANS device.
     
  27. galt

    galt Formula 3
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    Do you think people are driving their cars on the street wearing a Helmet with a HANS device? No.. Right?

    The point of the question is 5 point no helmet vs regular seat belt with airbags on the street head on. Are you more likely to break your neck with the 5 point harness.

    My guess is yes.. But not an expert on the subject..
     
  28. Madaboutred

    Madaboutred Karting

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    Every car has a "guard zone" for this situation.
    This means that the chassis and the rest of the structure will deform in a pre-calculated manner, so as to absorb part of the imact.
    A roll cage does not make any diference at this until the deformation reaches the point that the bar holds on to it.
    In this case the impact is considered to be lethal or very heavy whatsoever.

    The 5 point harness, on a FIA Bucket and a FIA cage, will save your life, without snaping your neck, vs basic setup in a similar crash.
    Further more, the Sparco Evo sliders (for bucket seats) also have a controlled deformation pattern that will let the seat slide enough as to absorb part of the impact.

    A basic example to this are the 5 point child seats vs the booster seats used in our every day cars.
    If 5 pointers were neck-snappers they wouldnt be used in infant seats (as we know infants have very little or none control of their relfexes in the first years).

    In serious racing a HANS device is also another extra security.

    I do not know if I am making any sense, as I have reached the limit of my use of English.
    If more clarifications are needed I can ask my son to chime in and explain.

    As a conclusion, approved seat, harness and cage, will save your life, in a similar crash with the standard equipment, even without a helmet.
    If you die with all these safety devices on, the only thing I can say, is that you would be -more dead- without them.
    I am into racing since 1970 and have a young son that also has the "fever" (and I care a lot about) so I try to attend any seminars and safety intructional courses I can and keep up with the evolution of this matter.

    For the helmet part that has been raised above, only thing I can say is that the only ways that your head can be smashed by a cage, is A - you re not securely strapped to the seat and you "fly" to the cage, or B the cage "rams" you.
    In the first case, it is wrong installation or wrong use of the harness and in the second case youre dead anyway as for the cage to be deformed so badly, the impact has a massive strenght.

    Sorry for the bad english.
     

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