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However, these mechanically complicated systems were prone to substantial problems, and involved a manually-attached lap belt which many users failed to employ under the mistaken belief that they were automatically and fully restrained. When these occupants were involved in accidents in which their automatic shoulder harness alone was in place, they were subjected to more serious injuries than they likely would have suffered had they been wearing only a lap belt.

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As a result, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration "NHTSA" enacted regulations requiring placards to be placed on the automatic shoulder harness systems warning that they are not to be used without the lap belt. Due to these problems, the U.

During the mid's, while the automatic restraint systems were being troubleshot in production, crash research was leading to the conclusion that an inflatable air bag often referred to as the SRS - supplemental, restraint system could supplement vehicle occupant protection in an accident is used as a supplement to seat belts and shoulder harnesses. Inclusion of these systems in new vehicles began to become mandatory in certain passenger vehicles the early 's and are being gradually phased in into other types of vehicles.

Air bags, of course, also pose their own risks. Recent concern has arisen over the potential for air bags, during deployment, to cause serious life threatening injuries to certain occupants, such as small children and frail adults, during sudden air bags inflation. Nonetheless, air bags have greatly reduced the number of fatal and serious auto injuries in vehicular accidents, particularly in highway accidents involving greater speeds.

The object of a seat belt buckle is to bring two ends of the seat belt together in a junction which will keep the two ends of the belt securely fastened to one another, particularly during the sudden and severe loads imposed during an accident - yet be easy for the occupant to fasten and unfasten in entering and existing the vehicle. The first seat belt to be mass-produced for this purpose in American vehicles in the 's and early 's closely resembled the type of widely-recognized seat belt buckle still in use on Airliners today, called a "lift-cover" buckle.

The restraint system would have a male tongue at one end with a hole or aperture in it, and would be inserted into the female buckle where a spring-loaded latch pin called a pawl would pass into the pawl and hold the tongue firmly into the buckle. The pin would be extracted when the user lifted up the hinged, spring-loaded buckle cover, releasing the pawl from the aperture in the tongue, allowing the tongue and buckle once again to separate. Early after installation of these buckles, concern arose that the lift-cover could be accidentally dislodged by the occupant's motions inside the vehicle, leaving the user unrestrained in an accident.

Fisher designed a buckle which operated similarly as the lift-cover buckle, but substituted a protected button on the side of the buckle for the lift-cover. This was the first major "side-release" or "top-release" style buckle used on American vehicles.

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The spring-loaded button would cause the pawl to span into the aperture when the tongue was fully inserted all of the way into the buckle. When the occupant wanted to disengage the tongue and buckle, s he would press the button and the pawl with be pushed out of the tongue's aperture, permitting separation of the tongue and buckle. Fisher or "Maxi-Buckle. In , Fisher patented a smaller side-release buckle which operated identically to the RCF, which differed from the "Maxi-Buckle" only in respect to its miniaturization.

It remains the most numerous buckle installed in American vehicles to date. At the time of its initial conception, the RCF was lightweight, simple in design, easy to manufacture, had few moving parts, was fairly durable, and therefore was relatively inexpensive to manufacture.

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It therefore became immediately popular with American automakers whom the government involuntarily compelled to make seat belts mandatory equipment in U. In the early 's the American automakers and their buckle suppliers began a campaign to develop a set belt buckle with a tongue eject feature and a release push button on the end of the buckle, rather than on the side or top. The initial generation of these tongue-eject feature buckles were side-release buckles. The first of these tongue-eject buckles used in production was manufactured by Hamill, a Division of Firestone now TRW Vehicle Safety Systems and was used as early as and Ford vehicles.

Called a "diecast" buckle, the buckle looked remarkably similar to the RCF, but was made by Hamill pursuant to a Swiss patent which announced as its sole purpose, prevention of the danger of "false latching. After two years, Ford went back to the RCF solely to save money on the production costs of the buckle.

However, in the early 's both Ford and General Motors once again directed their buckle suppliers to develop a new end-release buckle with a tongue eject feature.

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In the late 's the Ford Taurus and Lincoln Sable utilized side-release buckles with tongue eject features, as did the Ford Probe. The REPA end-release buckle had the release button placed on the end of the buckle next to the insertion point of the tongue , instead of on the top or side of the buckle. The tongue-eject feature prevented false latching, while locating he release button on the end of the buckle prevented a side-load from inadvertently causing the release button to be activated, thus also preventing inertial unlatching, as discussed below.

Today, the end-release buckles is the predominant buckle sold in the United States, and the number of new vehicles being equipped with RCF buckles continues to diminish. The following video explains how you can ensure that your seatbelts for you and your passengers are properly functioning :. Despite numerous advances in passive restraint systems over the past two decades, surprisingly the FMVSS and industry standards governing the manufacture of seat belts and buckles have essentially remained the same to date.

Moreover, little effort has been made by the American automakers to improve the designs for seat belt buckles used in American automobiles during that time period. The government's watchdog agency, NHTSA, further has not only done little to improve these designs, but has actively resisted proposed changes which would make these buckles safer.

Seat Belts and Your Collector Car

Meanwhile, advanced technologies available which would dramatically improve the safety of these buckle systems have been largely ignored. As explained in the above section, these buckles represent an outdated buckle-latching technology designed in the 's, and continue to possess serious seat belt defects of which most Americans are largely unaware e. As a direct consequence, over the past twenty-five years, thousands of Americans who made a conscious effort to put their seat belts on have been killed or seriously injured during auto accidents when their seat belt buckles have become suddenly unlatched.

More disturbingly, evidence obtained by attorneys representing these injured persons reveals that the auto industry has been well aware of these buckle unlatching-related casualties, and have suppressed them from the public and the U. Government in order to avoid the massive expense of forced recalls and to save money on the manufacturing costs of their vehicles. These buckle unlatching defects generally fall into two categories: false latching and inertial unlatching.

Seat Belt Failure Help : If you have had an issue with an unsafe seat belt, locking mechanism or safety issue with a car's seat belt feature, contact our auto recall and defective parts attorneys for a free case review. Was This Page Helpful? Note: If you have any questions, please provide your email if you want us to respond to you Email: optional : Submit Defective Seatbelt Attorneys.

My daughter and I were in a bad car accident in She received a broke jaw, broken pelvic, broken arm, and a ruptured ear drum. I prayed to the lord while I was in ICU to guide me and send me to the right attorney that would help me and my daughter and not just look at us as a monetary opportunity. After much research I choose Bisnar Chase. Others install seat belts as soon as they get their first vintage car.

In most states, both groups have a legal right to their opinion. As a car collector and a year veteran as an Emergency Medical Technician, I have seen both points of view.


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My EMT experience took me to countless motor vehicle accidents. Most hobby organizations encourage the installation of seat belts as a way to save lives.

The Antique Automobile Club of America maintains strict standards for training judges and judging cars at shows. AACA guidelines specify that points should not be deducted for adding seat belts to a car. If you have a s or s car that was originally marketed with seat belts as a factory accessory, you may be lucky enough to locate original-style safety belts for that car. A number of hobby vendors are restoring or reproducing original equipment belts. There are two belts per passenger. Each belt must be securely anchored to the floor.

Use a backing plate to reinforce the floor. A backing plate can be fashioned out of a piece of gauge steel with an area of about 6 square inches. Common practice is to run the two outermost straps directly from the anchor to the person's lap without passing between the two seat cushions. Inner belts are run through the seat. These come with large steel washers that you position under metal floor and backing plate.

Some anchors have captive nuts to make the installation easier. After securing each strap in its anchor, it should be adjusted for length. If your old car has a wooden floor, anchoring the seat belt to the wood is useless.