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Seat Belts, Harnesses & Safety Restraints


GENERAL INFORMATION

 - IMPORTANT DATES IN UK CAR SEAT BELT HISTORY - APPROVAL STANDARDS V. MOT TEST - WHERE TO FIND MORE INFORMATION ON STANDARDS -


IMPORTANT DATES IN UK CAR SEAT BELT HISTORY
Daily Mail article with Princess Margaret wearing a seat belt stimulates immense interest in seat belts. Early 1960's
New cars had to be fitted with front seat belts. 1967
Seat belts first included in MoT test. 1969
"Clunk-Click" advertising campaigns encouraged people to wear seat belts. Early 1970's
MoT test includes all front seat belts. 1977
Legislation introduced for compulsory wearing of front seat belts. 1983
New cars had to be fitted with rear seat belts. 1987
Seat belts, if available, had to be worn in the back of cars by children under 14. 1989
Rear seat belts were included in MoT test.
1991
Seat belts, if available, had to be worn in the back of cars by adults as well as children. 1991
Every seat belt fitted to a car had to be included in the MoT test. 1998

APPROVAL STANDARDS V. MOT TEST - AN INTERESTING COMPARISON
SEAT BELTS - Typical Safety Components

Just like other safety components Seat Belts need to be checked regularly and replaced if they show signs of Wear & Tear and Abuse. This is clearly stated in car manuals and the reason seat belts are included in the MoT Test.

The current MoT Test often puts the examiner in an impossible position. Does he pass a belt knowing he would not allow his family to use it or does he fail it by deviating from the Vehicle Inspectorate’s test manual.

Seat Belts are manufactured and carefully tested to European Standards before they can be fitted to motor vehicles yet the MoT Test does not relate to these standards as indicated in the comparison below.

FEATURE
EUROPEAN STANDARD FOR SEAT BELTS
MoT TEST
RESULT
Does it LOCK? Requires retracting belts to sense an accident situation and lock the webbing when the vehicle suffers irregular movement and/or the webbing accelerates (i.e. snatching the webbing). Does not check that the reel locks and fulfils this critical objective. The Mot Test leaves cars on the road with belts that do not work i.e. the 200,000 “G” & “H” registered Fiestas highlighted by “Watchdog”.
Does it RETRACT? Requires a minimum retraction force because slack in the seat belt system will permit additional body movement which may result in more serious injury. Insists the examiner manually helps if the retractor doesn't’t remove all the slack. The Mot Test leaves cars on the road with slack in the webbing.
Is it USER FRIENDLY? Requires the male part to come clear of the female buckle when lightly pressing the release so there is no doubt whether the belt is connected or not. Does not check this critical requirement and fails to ensure the wearer knows if the belt is connected correctly. The Mot Test leaves cars on the road with belts that appear to be connected but are not.
Is it APPROVED? Requires each belt to be clearly identified with markings showing the type of belt, the approval and the approval authority. This ensures suitable belts of the relevant standard and quality are fitted. Does not check the markings. The Mot Test leaves cars on the road with belts that are not suitable.
Has it been USED? Some seat belts are fitted with PreTensioner to help take slack out of the system in an accident. A “tell-tale” may indicate when the PreTensioner has been used. States that “In itself a seat belt that has had the PreTensioner activated is not a reason for rejection”. The Mot Test leaves cars on the road with seat belts that have fulfilled their function and must be replaced.
Conversely examiners are failing to enforce some of the Mot Test (re RoSPA’s survey) and as recommended by RoSPA they require further training & guidance.
Mot TEST RESULT
Includes the condition of the webbing i.e. Belts should be rejected because of : Examiners do not understand:
1) A cut which causes the fibres to separate. 1) The meaning of “a cut which causes fibres to separate”.
2) Fluffing or fraying which has clearly weakened the webbing. 2) How little fluffing/fraying will have “weakened the webbing”.
They are therefore leaving cars on the road with belts that will not be as effective as they should be.

SEAT BELT APPROVAL STANDARDS - WHERE TO FIND MORE INFORMATION

European Community Directive 77/541 and Regulation 16 can be viewed in Public reference libraries or try the following websites:

Select:

  1. Legislation in force
  2. Directive
  3. Year 2000, Number 0003

For Regulation ECE R-16 - http://www.unece.org/trans/main/wp29/wp29regs1-20.html

Select:

  1. Agreements, Regulations and Rules
  2. 1958 Agreement and its Addenda

 - IMPORTANT DATES IN UK CAR SEAT BELT HISTORY - APPROVAL STANDARDS V. MOT TEST - WHERE TO FIND MORE INFORMATION ON STANDARDS -


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