As you may know, vehicles used in motorsport are outfitted with special seatbelts that are FIA-certified to ensure the safety of the driver and co-driver in case of any untoward incidents. Part of the safety of these harnesses is not only on their construction but also on how they are installed and on how they are worn by competitors. Therefore, before any driver sets out to compete, they must first fasten their safety harness in the correct way. They must also follow the best practice for installation of safety harnesses as specified in the FIA International Sporting Code under Appendix J, or the championship technical regulations.
Drivers (or Co-drivers) in single seaters, sportscars, and closed cockpits competition cars must check the safety harness position prior to setting out. Officials can deny participation in a competition if the competitors do not install their safety harnesses properly. But more importantly, this is done to prevent serious or fatal injury.
You can check to ensure that your safety harness is installed correctly by following the steps below:
Correct buckle position in relation with the pelvic/iliac crest area
DO NOT wear the lap belt over your abdomen. Route it as low as possible towards your pelvis.
The lap belt is the part of the harness that is mounted horizontally and goes around your lower waist when the harness is fastened. The lap straps must fit tightly in the bend between the pelvic crest and the upper thigh. The lap and crotch straps must hold the pelvic region over the greatest possible surface.
Safety Harness anchorage points
DO NOT anchor the safety harnesses to the seats or their supports. This is to ensure in case the seat anchorage points fail during an accident, the driver will not be ejected together with the seat and harness.
It is important that safety harness straps are anchored in accordance with the FIA International Sporting Code under Appendix J or/and to the championship technical regulation. The strap angles, or the angle the various straps make when mounted on the proper anchorage points, are also critical.
Safety Harness straps routing
Competition seats feature slots in various points where the safety harness belts can go through. The shoulder, lap and crotch straps must pass through the dedicated seat slots, in order to ensure that they wrap and hold the shoulder and pelvic region over the greatest possible surface. All the strap must pass freely through the seat slots in order to avoid the webbing to stress the seat slot edge. Care must be taken that the straps cannot be damaged through chafing against sharp edges.
Free volume around the safety harness buckle
MAKE SURE that any steering, gear shifting or any normal movement you do while competing does not allow you to inadvertently touch the release mechanism of the safety harness. This is to avoid an involuntary opening of the safety harness while driving.
Competitors must check the distance of the hands to the safety harness buckle during the steering. During a movement of the steering wheel by 180 degrees to the left and right, the hands should always be at a safe distance from the lever of the buckle.
Safety Harness tension
ALWAYS KEEP your harnesses tightened! Studies performed by the FIA Safety Department have demonstrated that safety harness tension is important to reduce the risk of serious injuries.
If you are using a Frontal Head Restraint (FHR) device, also knownas HANS, the utility of this device is negated if your harnesses aren’t properly fastened! Also, you have to make sure that the harness is mounted properly in accordance to the FIA guide and installation specification for HANS / Hybrid & Hybrid Pro devices in racing competition.