Seat Belts Are a Safe Choice in Classic Cars

Those who are looking for classic car insurance in New Jersey, take note of one important safety fact: seat belts reduce injuries and save lives. In fact, they are considered the single most effective traffic safety device, according to the National Highway Safety Administration, cutting the risk of car accident injuries in half. Invented in 1885 for use with fixed objects, more than 50 years would pass before the first American automakers would offer seat belts as optional equipment—Nash in 1949, and Ford in 1955. The 1958 New York Motor Show highlighted the Saab GT750 with seat belts included as standard equipment;  many others (but not all) followed suit after that. Even so, it was not until 1968 when U.S. lawmakers made it mandatory for cars rolling off assembly lines to be equipped with seat belts.

Mandatory use of seat belts was first required in 1984 in New York; today, all but one state (New Hampshire) have mandatory seat belt laws, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, classic cars currently are not required to be retrofitted with seat belts if the vehicles were not originally equipped with them, notes an IIHS spokesperson. This presents a host of issues where prudence and purity collide, and a Catch-22 if vintage vehicle owners want to allow children to ride along with them.

Laws vary by state, but all states require use of child restraint devices or booster seats for younger children and seat belts for older children—but of course, it’s impossible to buckle in a  car or booster seat (or buckle up an older child) unless seat belts are present in the first place. What’s more, antique and classic cars don’t have the crumple zones, airbags, antilock brakes, third brake lights, and other features that make for a safer ride; and even if one wanted to install seat belts, some enthusiasts argue that pre-1960s cars may not have the structural strength to attach seat belts capable of withstanding the force of a crash at 60 MPH without the benefit of expensive modifications. Still, others—especially those who show their vehicles–insist that keeping a car in its original state is paramount, noting that the addition of seat belts could actually result in point deductions during judging.

As owners ponder the question of “to belt or not to belt,” it’s important to realize that classic car insurance in New Jersey is just as important as the steering wheel. Contact a professional agent who has all the experience necessary to protect everything from antique automobiles to exotic, one-of-a-kind automotive wonders and more.


photo credit: lars erik skrefsrud cc