Today: Do Seatbelt Laws Apply to Old Jaguar?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 13, 2014

Dear Tom and Ray:

Longtime fan and avid listener. I have a 44-year-old two-seat Jaguar E-type sports car. When we were young, we often rode around with three people in the front. I have searched and cannot find any info regarding if that is legal in my home state of Massachusetts. Any idea?

-- David

RAY: Well, even if it were legal, I wouldn't let you pick ME up!

TOM: It's actually not allowed, David. By federal law, any car manufactured after July 1, 1966, must have one seat belt per seat. And only one person is allowed to use each seat belt (I never knew we had an epidemic of seat-belt sharing back then).

RAY: Pretty much every state now has a law requiring that every person traveling in a car must be wearing the seat belt that corresponds to his or her seat.

TOM: I think the only holdout is your neighbor to the north, David: New Hampshire (state motto: Live Free and Then Die By Getting Projected Through Your Windshield).

RAY: If your car had been pre-July 1966, and had never HAD seatbelts to begin with, you'd be exempt, and you'd be free to endanger the life of that middle-seat passenger.

TOM: So if you want to drive around with three people, it sounds like you'll have to buy a second 44-year-old Jaguar E-Type and lash the bumpers together. Which might not be a bad idea, because that doubles your odds on any given day that at least one of them will start. Drive safely, David.

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