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CRESCENT CITY – Calif. A 65-year-old Cloverdale woman was killed after being ejected from a 1956 Ford Crown Victoria that had drifted off the road, struck an embankment and overturned. The passenger door flew open during the accident sequence and the woman was thrown onto the street. A passing semi-truck then struck the woman, killing her instantly.

According to the the Eureka Times-Standard, the CHP investigated the fatality and stated that the vintage Ford vehicle did not require seatbelts due to its manufacture date. Motor vehicles manufactured before January 1962 are not required to have seatbelts. (Vehicle Code 27314).

When the new seatbelt laws were being adopted in the Sixties, the car industry objected to the retro-fit of cars that had been manufactured before the seatbelt requirement. The retrofit would have encompassed millions of cars. Today, however, the number of these vintage vehicles on the road is small. Many owners have seatbelts installed out of concern for their own safety.

Though we are not faulting the owner of the vehicle for not having seatbelts in a car where they were not required by law, we are sorry that they were not available when this crash happened. We would urge owners of vintage cars to rethink their position concerning the installation of belts, as they certainly make the car safer at a relatively low cost. There are so few "stock" cars on the road today to justify not installing the safety device today.

Our condolences to the family.

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