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Seat Belts or no Seat belts, that is the question


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Well, I have driven my 1938 Plymouth for years without seat belts, even though I would never drive my 350-Z without them. What is the general consenus? I am now getting her back on the road and I live in Atlanta, not the friendliest place to drive. I ask this because this past weekend a Model A was Destroyed by a VW and the driver was killed and his wife is in critical condition. I would bet they had no seat belts. Do you all have seat belts installed? Do you wear them? Greg

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Guest my3buicks

I feel even if they help a little it's worth it. Even in a moderate accident in a older car the doors can spring open and deposit you onto the road and increase your chances of injury, whereas the belts would at least hold you in.

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This is something I have been debating and considering on my 1929 Chevrolet as well, granted I have not gotten to the interior yet. I am GREATLY CONSIDERING installing seat belts for the safety factor alone. I am not worried about my driving, just the rest of the fools out there on the road around me.

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I do not have seat belts in my old cars unless it came that way. But then I don't live in Atlanta. I live in a small quiet town and drive my old cars sparingly because they are mainly for show. Nevertheless, I realize I could be injured or killed in one on my sparing drives.

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I've installed seat belts in all my older vehicles. You must make sure that the anchor points are structurally sufficient, however. Simply running a bolt through sheet metal is not adequate. Later model cars typically use large load-distributing plates that are located on floor pan crossmembers for additional strength. Of course, while I do use the belts, I also realize that these older cars don't have collapsible steering columns, side impact door beams, positive retention door latches, etc, etc.

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I ask this because this past weekend a Model A was Destroyed by a VW and the driver was killed and his wife is in critical condition. I would bet they had no seat belts. Do you all have seat belts installed? Do you wear them? Greg

There was also a three-year-old boy in the Model A, who survived. The woman driving the VW has been charged with second degree vehicular homicide, along with marijuana possession.

http://marietta.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/woman-charged-in-weekend-fatal-accident-in-east-cobb

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/2-deadly-wrecks-in-cobb-county/nfJ2P/

Edited by West Peterson (see edit history)
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Sad. I live in a small town also and my 1915 Buick does not have seat belts. If I lived in a place like Detroit and vicinity, I would not even take it out after seeing for myself the dead heads on the highway with a cell phone stuck in their ear.

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I also live in Atlanta and I'm a little nervous driving here even in my 2007 car with all its wonderful safety features. I would not even think of taking my Brass Era car out on the roads. If you are not going the same pace as everyone else (which is too fast) you are going to get hit. End of story. That's not right of course, but it is the reality here. It really is completely out of control now and once the kids leave for college I think we will probably leave and get out into the country.

There was also a three-year-old boy in the Model A, who survived. The woman driving the VW has been charged with second degree vehicular homicide, along with marijuana possession.

http://marietta.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/woman-charged-in-weekend-fatal-accident-in-east-cobb

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/2-deadly-wrecks-in-cobb-county/nfJ2P/

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In Maine you can still get every where on the old roads which are shorter,,

But have more turns,,you wont fall asleep and yall need both hands to steer

no texting,,,The turnpike tolls have gone from 3 Lanes to 6 I think,,fixes that

We have seats in the waiting area of the Motor Vehicle dept,,as well as town hall

Plates available there too,,

In 14 years I can only recall 1 bottl neck left Rt 1 at Wiscassett on the coast

Keeps the tourists from invadin' the narth

Owls Head Museum [cars an planes] is only closed 3 days a year,no traffic except driveway,

and L.L.Bean open 365days

Plenty of snow for skiing,,but dont frget to bring your shovell

Generally its country traffic,,1935 style,,,but without the road tar,,There are a suprising number of model A,,,daily drivers on the road here

Cheers,,Ben

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I have no intention of installing them in a vehicle if they did not originally come with them,and before anyone starts in about them being more safe I survived a serious car wreck that I was in the hospital for a month and to this day do not like using them. I would have been decapitated if I was using the seat belts since the hood came in through the windshield so I survived falling towards the driver. If anyone wants to install them then go for it as I will not tell anyone they should not but I do not like being forced to use them.

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This is an old subject, and the old idea that not wearing a seat belt will allow you to avoid the odd, rare, accident like mentioned above. There ARE examples where someone is thrown from a car, and survived because of not remaining in the car.

BUT, there are a thousand times as many instances where people are thrown from a car, thrown across the seat, or into the back seat, or half out a window, etc.. and sustained crippling injuries, or died as a result of not controlling their car. or the car continued on and killed or maimed someone who had the misfortune to be in the wrong place and time.

So wearing a seat belt is not just about saving your life, it's about staying in your seat, keeping the car under control, steering and braking to avoid other people and cars, trees, ditches, buildings etc.

As for the mounting of the seat belts, with the above ideas in mind, I'm not too worried about my seatbelt mounting's security. I'm not expecting my lapbelt to survive a 5G impact, I'll be dead from the shattered glass, the loose hood, splintered wood, etc. But I do expect my lapbelt to keep me in my seat where I can steer, brake and maneuver during a minor accident that might otherwise be lethal.

GLong

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I installed lap belts in my '64 VW Karmann Ghia many years ago and wore them regularly because it was a "sports" car. Never wore seat belts in any other car up until then. A few years after the belt installation, I was in a chain collision and was hit from behind by a Pontiac and pushed into a Ford LTD on the freeway. The impact was severe enough to knock the eyeglasses off of my head when it snapped back (no headrests), and shorten the VW by about two feet. The driver's seat track was completely pulled apart and bent. Luckily, I did not hit the steering wheel, though I had a back injury from going back in the seat very hard. I was able to nearly leap out of the car right after it came to rest (this was at the time of the Ford Pinto debacle and I was afraid the car was going to catch fire), something I would not have been able to do if knocked unconscious.

After looking at the damage to my VW, including seeing the floor pan pulled up about 1/2 inch around the seat bolt anchorage bolts, I started wearing a seat belt every time behind the wheel.

My other car lacked headrests, but I was able to convert it to a factory headrest setup. I still have this car and show it and nearly always get a deduction for the incorrect headrests. All of my cars also have bright third brake lights. I also get a hit for those on the show field. Since I drive my cars and don't trailer them, I'm o.k. with the additional safety equipment and the deductions. I'd rather take a hit on a score sheet than in any of my cars.

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"As for the mounting of the seat belts, with the above ideas in mind, I'm not too worried about my seatbelt mounting's security. I'm not expecting my lapbelt to survive a 5G impact, I'll be dead from the shattered glass, the loose hood, splintered wood, etc. But I do expect my lapbelt to keep me in my seat where I can steer, brake and maneuver during a minor accident that might otherwise be lethal. "

That's the most sensible statement I've seen in all the discussions of seat belts on older cars......they will NOT save you in a major collision, in addition to the things mentioned the steering column will get you, but during a minor incident they may be a help....

That said, I would never install seat belts in another person's car, nor would I sell a car with seat belts that I'd installed....nor will I cut, sew, or modify anyone's seat belts...in today's (sad) litigious society, if there was a future wreck with injuries you'd be in court....

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I won't/don't drive out of my drive WITHOUT them fastened.

Been wearing belts since the earlyt 50's, bought them at the Army Surplus store in Bloomington, Il. Have had to use them a couple times, and am firm believer.

I installed in my 41 Buick too, with shoulder straps.

Dale in Indy

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I drive my 68 3/4 ton Chevy truck daily without seat belts in a heavily populated area and have never believed seat belts save lives but, I do believe speed kills...

If your planning on driving at unsafe speeds (like most people do now days) then you should have them but if your a very alert driver who is respectful and travel at or under the speed limit and stay out of the way of those who are obviously impatient while displaying common sense you should be ok. We ALL take a risk of death or bodily injury everyday when we get behind the wheel no matter if we are buckled in or not. Here in Arizona it's the law but I refuse to wear it because I've survived two bad accidents in my life and I'm convinced not wearing a belt is what saved me both times. I know some will flame me (what else is new..) but you will never convince me they are any more or less safe. Most people are killed in rollovers, I've been in two and lived because I was able to turn and protect (can't do that when your strapped in) but I've lost friends who were buckled in and killed in the same type of rollovers. Go figure...

Just today a landscaper was mauled over by someone speeding. 62 year old man lives all of his life and just minding his own business working in a customers yard and gets blindsided by some idiot speeding. Was he wearing a seat belt ?

Again, speed kills, not the lack of wearing a seat belt. When it's your time, it's your time with or without the belt.

Just for the record my truck has seat belts, nice new black ones, and they are going to stay that way :D

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You MUST be kidding. Belts have saved a TON of lives. What are you going to do, HANG ON TO THE STEERING WHEEL when someone crosses the line?

Yes speed CAN kill, so has a SLOW speed wreck when often a seat belt wasn't used.

Dale in Indy

With all due respect I never said seat belts don't save lives. It's called an "opinion" which I believe I'm entitled to. When someone crosses the line I won't worry because I know how weak most cars are made now days ;)

Keeping on topic, I say if the car came with them originally they should have them, if they never came with them from the factory the vehicle will lose that aspect of originality that will be an injustice to the classic your enjoying.

Edited by 30DodgePanel (see edit history)
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With all due respect I never said seat belts don't save lives. It's called an "opinion" which I believe I'm entitled to. When someone crosses the line I won't worry because I know how weak most cars are made now days ;)

Keeping on topic, I say if the car came with them originally they should have them, if they never came with them from the factory the vehicle will lose that aspect of originality that will be an injustice to the classic your enjoying.

First of all, there isn't a single automotive hobby group of any kind that I'm aware of that deducts points or penalizes cars in any way for adding seat belts. Valuing your life should never be a detriment to enjoying this hobby.

However, there is also this:

1. According to Standard Catalog of Light Trucks, the 1930 Dodge truck chassis (plural) used for panel trucks weigh between 1900 lbs. and 2955 lbs.

2. According to cars.com, the "weak" 2014 Toyota Camry crossing the line in front of you weighs 4630 lbs.

3. Worried or not, you're the one who's dead.

That's actually a VERY typical calculation for antique vs. modern cars. You can pretend to be deceived by the "weakness" of modern cars all day long, the fact is they're generally bigger, heavier, and better than any of our antiques...and they have crush zones that don't evolve your chest and the dashboard.

Anybody care to post that video of the 1959 Chevy BelAir hitting the 2009 Chevy Malibu again?:confused::rolleyes:

Edited by Dave@Moon
added "(plural)" (see edit history)
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In Michigan this winter, we've had brutal cold weather. On one of the paved two-lane roads I have to travel to get just about anywhere, the frost heaves in the pavement are so bad that my 90# dog who sits in the front seat of my cars, is frequently launched off his seat just from the frost heaves in the road.. I'm wearing a seatbelt, and it keeps me in my seat.

Seatbelts won't save you in every accident. but nor will a $1 bet in a million dollar slot machine give you a winner every time.. But I'll take my chances with my seatbelt, over my chances at the $1million.

30 Dodge Panel, I understand your reluctance, I don't like a lot of regulations.. but I will say this.. I hope when the time comes that you get laid to rest, that you have not had a mishap that caused you to lose control of your vehicle and maim or kill someone.

If it was just me, my car and a tree, ditch or other obstruction, that would be OK.. but if it kills someone else, well I just don't want that on my list of foolish things I've done in my life.. that list is too long already.

The only thing that is really keeping people alive are airbags. and I just can't see a front and side airbag mounted in any of my cars.. well maybe one of the ones from the '60's..

Greg L

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It's funny how this topic pops up on a regular basis, and the same back and forth happens.

DO install seatbelts if it makes you feel safer.

DON'T expect seat belts to save you, in a major collision, in a car not designed for seat belts.

DON'T drive as if you're in a modern, much safer, vehicle (I'm not a fan of new cars, but come on, they're much safer than our old ones, and they're engineered that way)

DO drive defensively at all times, expecting every other vehicle to do something wrong, and expecting at any time to have someone run a stop sign or red light....it happened just yesterday to my wife, fellow ran a red light and luckily she saw it coming and accelerated, so he clipped the back end of her car and didn't broadside her......

DO....and this is a big DO....maintain your car, making sure brakes are good, steering mechanism is all in place and nothing loose, all suspension in excellent condition and checked for loose parts, wheels are snug (I've seen a Packard wheel come off a car at speed, it's no fun), tires are good and properly inflated....most states don't require inspection of our old cars, but that's no excuse to drive a car that has inadequate maintenance....

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DO install seatbelts if it makes you feel safer.

DON'T expect seat belts to save you, in a major collision, in a car not designed for seat belts.

This is the smartest post in this thread. That real probability that a backyard installation of belts into a wood framed prewar car will help vs. hurt is completely unknown. They could very well cause more harm then good in many collisions.

Also, when some jackass on his phone in a modern car barrels into some poor guy in his Model T you get people whose first response is "Was the guy in the Model T wearing a belt?" it drives me crazy.

Edited by alsancle
Removed inappropriate comment. (see edit history)
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It's funny how this topic pops up on a regular basis, and the same back and forth happens.

DO install seatbelts if it makes you feel safer.

DON'T expect seat belts to save you, in a major collision, in a car not designed for seat belts.

DON'T drive as if you're in a modern, much safer, vehicle (I'm not a fan of new cars, but come on, they're much safer than our old ones, and they're engineered that way)

DO drive defensively at all times, expecting every other vehicle to do something wrong, and expecting at any time to have someone run a stop sign or red light....it happened just yesterday to my wife, fellow ran a red light and luckily she saw it coming and accelerated, so he clipped the back end of her car and didn't broadside her......

DO....and this is a big DO....maintain your car, making sure brakes are good, steering mechanism is all in place and nothing loose, all suspension in excellent condition and checked for loose parts, wheels are snug (I've seen a Packard wheel come off a car at speed, it's no fun), tires are good and properly inflated....most states don't require inspection of our old cars, but that's no excuse to drive a car that has inadequate maintenance....

Excellent post!! Pure common sense. It reminds me of something my father once told me about state car inspections. He said they should inspect drivers, not cars. A good driver can drive any car.

Edited by Skyking
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Hauling &** in a Humvee hanging on to nothing but a Ma Duce and blasting everything I saw, seat belts were not needed. Riding on 2 wheels coast to coast and North to South since 1977 of course no seat belts. Flying in helicopters and C130's across the Atlantic I did not use them. No they are not in my 49 and I don't use them. I drove a semi for a few years coast to coast and I did always wear them belts. If I get hit by something like a semi I don't believe belts will help in my old car. On the other hand, if some one in a Volkswagen would like to take on a 1949 new yorker, they are welcome to try. Where their car crumples it will be full of straight 8. belts like helmets are only needed in a collision. I've been fortunate enough to not get into collisions. An accident is when a person does not make it to the bathroom in time. Vehicles don't have accidents they collide.

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If you put in the seat belts be sure your seats are securely fastened to the floor. One of the problems of early seat belt installations was that the seat belts would hold but the seat rip free and squash the passengers.

And yet, this statement STILL violates the laws of physics not to mention mechanical engineering principles... :rolleyes:

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I have a problem with safety belts<st1:PersonName w:st="on">, </st1:PersonName>air bags<st1:PersonName w:st="on">, </st1:PersonName>and all forms of idiot protection. These devises stop mother nature from eliminating the stupid. We already have enough stupid people in the world lets do away with all these protections for a while please.

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I use my seatbelts 100% of the time even if I am just driving across a parking lot, no joke. If a passenger refuses to wear his/hers then there is no ride for them. My car came with lap belts only so I updated to retractable 3-pt front belts and generally don't carry people in the back (still fitted with lap belts only) except around town but not at any speed such as highway driving.

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It's just plain and simple stupid to NOT wear a seat belt.

Dale in Indy

Personal choice in the older cars. I have to agree with Al (alsancle) and Dave (Trimicar). I'd feel much safer paying attention and not wearing seat belts than I would the other way around.

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I have a problem with safety belts<st1:personname w:st="on">, </st1:personname>air bags<st1:personname w:st="on">, </st1:personname>and all forms of idiot protection. These devises stop mother nature from eliminating the stupid. We already have enough stupid people in the world lets do away with all these protections for a while please.

I'm a big fan of evolution, but by your logic, when someone else does something stupid and runs into ME, I'm supposed to suffer for his stupidity? Sorry but your rationale is idiocy.

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If it were practical to have a roll cage, 5 point harness and a HANS device, I would have one.

Not one hour after I posted my comment (back on page one) there was a serious accident at the intersection across from my house. SUV ran a stop light, smashed another car and rolled several times. Driver and passenger ejected. I don't know if they lived or not, but the accident investigation crew was there for an hour and they painted a lot of marks on the street.... that usually is not a good sign.

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Yes, we have and use seat belts in all our collector cars, only one is new enough to have come with them.

I've also installed shoulder belts on our 35 Buick, they are not stock for 1935 but a wood framed body that we drive

on the pulbic roads should be safer than the 1935 equipment. Same goes for any car, you are safer if you stay in the

car during an accident than flying in traffic. I even have seat belts for the all the passengers!

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