Safety

Safety Equipment: Explained

With their high speeds and high skill levels, motorsports contain a certain level of danger and have in the past led to a number of fatal incidents involving not only drivers but also spectators. Fortunately, practitioners of the sport have long been aware of these dangers, and therefore such stakeholders as equipment manufacturers, automotive engineers, organisations like the Motor Sports Association or the FIA Foundation, and drivers themselves are constantly collaborating to make the sport safer and to protect drivers, both through technological advances as well as by setting rigorous standards for safe practices. One of the results of these regulatory and research efforts is that there is now a wide variety of car safety products on the market from top brands, all meticulously designed and carefully tested to ensure that even in the unlikely event of an accident, your vehicle will keep you and your fellow occupants safe.

What types of equipment should you consider?

Equipment designed to keep you safe comes in various forms, including fire suppression systems, roll cages and harnesses. Unlike most other high-performance auto gear, these are rarely used on a day-to-day basis, and yet they must provide exceptional performance during an emergency scenario, which means that they need to be ultra-reliable. Hence, the standards for such equipment tend to be very high, and before you complete your purchase you should always check the products for compliance with UK/EU legislation or FIA/MSA regulations.

Fire suppression systems

Fire represents one of the most immediate dangers in motorsports, and so serious drivers should consider investing in equipment to combat it. Modern high-tech fire suppression comes in a very wide range of formats, from small hand-held fire extinguishers commonly known from household use, to manually operated yet integrated extinguishing systems, to large automatic onboard systems that are triggered automatically if the cabin temperature reaches a certain point.

Roll cages

These are rigid frame-like structures that are constructed out of high-strength steel and are designed to protect a vehicle's occupants from injury during an impact. These can range from the relatively simple roll bar, which provides some degree of protection in the event of a rollover, to bolt-in cages, which offer a significantly higher level of protection, to the more expensive weld-in cages, which are lightweight and also provide enhanced stability and protection.

Harnesses

Harnesses come in a variety of shapes and vary in the number of points they use, i.e. at how many points the straps are fastened to the vehicle. While seat belts in normal cars come in the 3-point format, harnesses for motorsports can be bolted in at 4, 5 or 6 points, both for increasing levels of stability during the drive and for enhanced security during an incident. Most harnesses are lightweight yet rugged and come with quick release mechanisms.

What else should I consider when purchasing safety equipment?

Due to the inherent dangers, motorsports enthusiasts should be aware that keeping everyone safe is a top priority, which means that you need to invest as much time and effort in it as you would in anything else. Therefore, when it comes to choosing the right equipment for your needs and budget, consider going for trusted and recognised brands that have been properly tested and come with a quality guarantee. Make sure that the gear has the necessary approval marks and meets the required standards. Finally, if you do happen to come across an incredibly cheap top brand product that seems to good to be true, be cautious as there are counterfeit products out there.

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