Should You Install a Five-Point Safety Harness?

Should You Install a Five-Point Safety Harness?

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.

Installation Costs

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 first lap.

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!
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