Tom, and the mere fact that racing orgs surely know all that or should, yet chose to treat them differently based solely on which tag was paid for (the bottom line) is clear enough proof that it’s pure litigation CYA ultimately driving decisions.
Some years back SCCA first raised the issue of tightening limits, got lots of pushback, then said they decided against it, and then the next season did it anyway without any warning, then a few seasons later did yet another partial reversal. Part of the stated rationale, a big part the way I read it, was the effect of UV (sunlight predominantly) on the webbing. The “worst case” you mentioned being an open cockpit car sitting in direct sunlight (not even under a canopy) pretty much continuously for a couple years. It was an utterly ridiculous standard. They might just as easily ban drinking water because you can in fact kill yourself by drinking too much. And then there’s the “minimum” standard they need to meet. I don’t recall what that is and it would be harder to argue with anyway, but it too is likely quite extreme.
I know I’m always asking these questions, but when has anyone ever heard of a properly installed belt that wasn’t already cut or damaged, snapping? I fully expect there are a few examples in the archives, rules were really lax and belts were not as good back in the day, but I’ve been around this stuff since the 70s and have never known it to happen. I also know that street car belts are different, but in the end they aren’t THAT different, and if 10+ year old 3-point belts were snapping with any regularity resulting in injuries I’m pretty sure someone would be screaming about it.
For the record, I’m fine with an expiration, some people need to be forced. But when I plunked down the bucks for Safecraft I waited until they could send some tagged with January of the new year and still winced at how long they were good for. I think any SFI or FIA belt should be five years (then end of 5th year) BUT subject to annual inspection for any cuts, fraying, sun bleaching, etc.
But in the end the cost simply isn’t high enough to be a battle worth fighting, so I settle for a good rant now and then.
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