Seems the concept of restraints caught some attention.
Questions arose regarding shoulder belts. I agree that it is
not a good idea to compress the spine. The general recommendation
that has been published show the belts parallel to the ground
to about 4 inches below the shoulder for upright seating position.
The belts that mounted just above the shoulder have been the
most comfortable for me. There seem to be a split on how to retain
a body in semi reclining position. I've seen examples of at shoulder
as well as below the shoulder mountings. Most of the illustrations
I've seen still recommend the below the shoulder mounting.
I feel that mounting below the shoulder, in light of how tight
the belts should be, really promotes spine compression. If you
really tighten up the belts on a below the shoulder installation
it is not long before you are hurting from the pressure on your
The shoulder belts should do the job of stopping the upper body
from moving forward on impact and only assist in keeping your
head out of the weeds. This can be accomplished by very tight
belts that hold you back to the seat and not mashing your spine
into your pelvis. Your body stretches an astonishing amount under
the loading of an impact and tight, well installed belts will
minimize your travel in the car.
Solid seat mounting is extremely important as well. If the seat
back or mounting fails, the best belts in the world will be useless.
The paramedic who provides his services primarily to the motor
sports arena told us at our recent RMVR Crash & Burn School that
shoulder belts that you can slip your fingers between the belt
and the chest are too loose. The less you can move in the belts,
Wendy's method of tightening the belts is great. Tighten, exhale
and tighten again. The seat design can also have dramatic consequences
for the spine. It looks as though the pre load of the spine along
with a lack of proper lumbar support can produce spinal fractures.
This is worth looking into when buying a seat. Many of the seats
out there have very poor lumbar support and lumbar support is
every bit as important as lateral support in a racing seat. What
can't be overstated is that driver restraint is a system and every
part of it must be right or the whole is compromised.
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