Is wearing a race harness instead of a standard seatbelt on the open road illegal?

February 18th, 2008 by NZPC

I have a Honda Integra Type R that I brought in from Japan earlier this year. The car had a Recaro driver’s race seat, a half cage, Tein coil-overs and a few engine mods. I had to get the thing certed when it went through the VIN, which was all good. I use the car everyday and take it down to Pukekohe at every opportunity I can for a hard fang (only place to do it!). As such, to make it a little safer, I got myself an expensive Sabelt harness seat belt (three-inch straps, FIA approved, etc). Therein lies my problem. I got ticketed the other day for not wearing a seat belt. Don’t get me wrong I was wearing a belt (my race harness), but apparently this is illegal? The cop told me that those belts aren’t allowed in the car and I should have been wearing the factory one, which I also have left installed. Is he right? If so, I find it hard to believe that my FIA-spec Sabelt harness would provide less safety than the factory diagonal belt! Maybe he was just pissed that he couldn’t ping me on anything else! Hope you can shed some light.

Cheers, Mark Nunn

Sadly for you Mark, the cop is right! Hard to get your head around that law, isn’t it? For years, LVVTA has discussed this issue with Land Transport New Zealand, extolling the significant safety benefits of a full harness belt. We’ve been able to achieve a partial relaxation, in that full-harness belts can now be legally fitted to, and worn in, bonafide motor-sport vehicles that have been issued with an LVV Authority Card from MotorSport New Zealand (have to have a competition licence and logbook, etc), and also for single-row seating scratch-built vehicles like AC Cobra and Lotus 7 replicas. We’ve yet to convince them that a full-harness should be used in road-going production cars like your Type-R. Land Transport’s concerns include: the driver being able to properly reach all of the vehicle controls, being able to see to the right and behind at Y-intersections and, most importantly, whether people would perhaps not wear them (or not wear them properly adjusted) because of the extra hassle in doing them up compared to a conventional lap and diagonal retractor belt. We’ll keep chipping away at them, but don’t count on anything!

TJ