If you’ve seen any sort of a car movie, especially one of the installments from the
Fast and Furious franchise, you’ve probably seen one of the lead characters jump
into a car and proceed to strap into their five-point safety harness.
What is a five-point harness? It’s the term for a harness that is
attached at five points, and you can usually identify them from the two
belts that latch together in the middle, sort of like a safety vest that’s
bolted to the seat.
These belts are extremely popular: not only do they look awesome because
they’re common found in the highest-performance cars used in racing,
but getting in one and strapping down feels like you’re getting
set to take a ride in a rocket ship.
But if you’ve ever taken a look into upgrading your existing three-point
safety belt to one of the five-point variety, you’ve probably come
across a lot of varying information. On this blog, we’ll attempt
to set the record straight and help you learn whether or not investing
in a five-point harness is all it’s cracked up to be.
Do You Need It?
The first thing that many people want to take into consideration is what
kind of driving they’re going to be doing. The vehicles which
do go through the effort to install a five-point safety harness are usually
operating under the most extreme conditions—triple-digit speeds,
extreme turning angles, dangerous racing conditions, or even crawling
quickly over the biggest boulders and obstacles that could be put in front
of them. In short: if your vehicle is street legal, odds are you more
than likely don’t need one of these harnesses—your regular
three-point safety harness is more than adequate to protect you in the
event of an accident, and switching to a five-point harness is probably
more trouble than it’s worth.
The bottom line is this: whether or not you should install a four or five-point
safety restraint system depends entirely on what you’re doing. If
you’re going to be doing high-performance driving, such as regular
track day racing, or you’re building an out-and-out race car, then
these belts are right for you. If you’re just looking to make your
ride a little cooler, then you would probably be better-served focusing
on a different upgrade.
Whether you’re building a track-day juggernaut, an off-road monster,
or a show car that’s going to light up any meet you bring it to,
you’ve decided that it is worthwhile to install a harness. Then
there’s the next thing you need to consider: the cost to do so.
Any high-quality five-point harness you purchase is going to be expensive—they
must be manufactured to rigorous FIA or Department of Transportation safety
standards using only premium-grade materials. The belt itself must be
thoroughly inspected through every step of its construction, and all of
that adds quite a bit to its cost.
And then there’s the cost to install it. If your car is not built
to handle a five-point harness, you’ll need to do everything from
installing new anchor points to even installing a new seat where you’re
installing the harness. It’s almost guaranteed that your existing
stock driver’s seat isn’t suited to a five-point harness.
All in all, installing a five-point harness adds a pretty penny to the project.
Are They Actually Safer?
Then there’s the question of whether or not this type of a harness
is actually safer. Make no mistake, a
properly installed five-point safety harness is considerably safer than a traditional three-point
safety belt for the driver involved in a high-speed crash, such as one
you’d find in motorsports. However, for average or everyday driving
at highway or typical road speeds, a five-point harness is no safer than
a three-point setup. In fact, the harness combined with your vehicle’s
airbag system might actually be even
more dangerous than before. Modern vehicles are manufactured with safety systems that
are designed and built to work together seamlessly, and interrupting or
modifying one or more of the pieces of safety equipment could cause the
entire system not to work right.
Logistics & Safety Certifications
Finally, once you get the five-point harness installed, you’ll need
to get your vehicle inspected in order to operate it at
any event. All racing belts must be FIA approved, which is different from
the certification you’d receive from the Department of Transportation.
Not having FIA certification or having an expired certification is a good
way to get sent home from your track day before you ever even take your
The only way to make sure your installation is correct and that you won’t
run into trouble from either tech inspectors or law enforcement is to
have your harness installed by a Houston high-performance auto expert.
If you do decide you want to go this route, we here at HP Motorsports
can help you by installing a high-quality racing restraint that will significantly
improve your safety for the most adventurous types of motorsports.
Call HP Motorsports today at (281) 231-9950 to request an estimate!