The International Automobile Federation has studied the first standard in history, in force since 2021, which imposes precise constraints on how these devices must be made. A standard that paves the way for a completely new type of bodice
Rib protectors were invented in the 1990s. The high stresses that drivers undergo (due to blows or simply due to the high lateral accelerations generated when cornering) on the ribs resting directly against the fiberglass seat, obliged drivers and mechanics to strive to make the first rudimentary bodices. Initially these accessories were made well and improved with the material available in the spare parts boxes of karts, so it was not uncommon to see rib protectors made of number plates (soft and flexible plastic panels) which acted as their side protectors. near the driver’s ribs, sealed with adhesive tape that wrapped around the driver’s torso. Over time, however, this accessory evolved and became practically indispensable for anyone who wished to drive a racing kart, even a rental kart. However, the development of this safety tool was always solely entrusted to the ingenuity and experience of artisans and companies in this sector who, listening to the needs of professional drivers, wisely developed products that were increasingly safer and more comfortable for all kart drivers. In fact, while having to ensure the safety and protection of drivers, an accessory such as the rib protector must not limit their driving freedom or reduce their ability to “feel” the vehicle. Unlike other safety devices (such as overalls and helmets), rib protectors have never been regulated by the FIA that determines the minimum levels of safety and protection that this accessory must ensure.
However, the International Automobile Federation started a study some time ago that took into consideration various factors based on which the foundations were laid for a first and historic standard regulating rib protectors. The FIA 8870-2018 approval was the result of this study, the first standard governing the construction of rib protectors for karts. The rib protectors that are subject to this standard will be mandatory for all participants in FIA Karting championships, cups and trophies, starting from 2021. And from 2022 it will be necessary to be equipped with an FIA 8870-2018 standard rib protector for all karting competitions registered in the FIA International Sports Calendar. What aspects have the FIA considered to define this standard? First, the data on a series of accidents related to karting was collected. This screening essentially identified two main groups of traumatic mechanisms and related injuries. Direct trauma, resulting in a fracture, bruises or abrasions. And then what is called a deceleration trauma, in other words a trauma that affects the abdominal and thoracic area, and consequently also the back. With go-karts, injuries resulting from accidents can vary greatly in terms of severity. Among these, those referred to the torso and spine area are by far the most frequent. A recent analysis carried out in the Netherlands showed that 73% of people hospitalized after accidents have traumas in the above areas. The protection areas defined by the FIA are basically divided into two zones: Zone A and Zone B. The first concerns the part commonly known as the safety harness, the second includes both the side protections, hips and backrest. Each element is regulated in detail. In the sense that reference sizes were established (L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5) which define the individual parts and which we will see in more detail in the “In practice” section, in the subsequent slides. The design of the product must be such that it remains stable when worn and all its components must be permanently connected, without detaching themselves.
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