The present invention concerns an accessory for grasping a safety
belt. The invention has been developed with the aim of overcoming the problem which
may arise in some vehicles, especially motor vehicles, in which when a safety belt
is not in use and is in a position generally to the side and rear of an associated
seat, it can be difficult for the person sitting in that seat to reach it.
A situation of this type can arise in many motor vehicles, especially
in relation to the front seats if the person in question moves the seat forward
depending on his anthropometric characteristics and/or his preference when driving
or travelling, or where the design of the motor vehicle body is such (for example,
a three-door vehicle whose side doors extend significantly from the front to the
rear in order to enable access to the rear seats) that the pillar against which
the seat belt lies when not in use is located quite far back in the passenger
To overcome this disadvantage to some extent it has been proposed,
especially in relation to high specification motor vehicles and/or sports cars,
to locate a rigid arm at the top of the pillar, which is pivotable about an approximately
horizontal axis at the upper part of the pillar. This is in order to bring forward,
that is, towards the seat and the person occupying it, at least a part of the free
portion of the safety belt which, to this end, passes through a slot in the lower,
free end of the arm.
However, this solution has some disadvantages in terms both of structure
In the first place, it is a rather complex, and therefore expensive
solution which can only be adopted as original equipment: the presence of the pivoting
arm must clearly be provided for at the design stage of the vehicle and during
the manufacture thereof.
In addition, by projecting forward from the central pillar of the
passenger compartment, the arm, which is necessarily rigid, obstructs passenger
access to the rear seats in three-door vehicles. For this reason, at least in some
cases, the aforesaid arm is formed so that it can be selectively pulled downwards,
against the pillar. As well as giving rise to further manufacturing problems, and
therefore increased cost, this solution encounters the further inherent problem
of the need to achieve a reasonable compromise between the requirement of applying
a resilient biasing force to the arm to keep it projecting forward (so as to be
able effectively to pass the safety belt to the person occupying the seat), and
the need to avoid having to exert significant force to return the arm to the unused
position against the pillar.
The object of the present invention is to provide an intrinsically
simple solution which lacks the aforesaid disadvantages and which, in particular,
can easily be adopted in motor vehicles already on the market (so-called "after
The solution according to the invention, having the characteristics
referred to in the following claims, lends itself to use as original equipment,
as well in relation to safety belts that have already been fitted.
In relation to this, the term "accessory", as used in the present
description and the following claims, is to be understood as referring both to
an element which can be mounted on a safety belt that has already been fitted in
a motor vehicle, and to an element forming an integral part of a safety belt during
the manufacture thereof when it is, in fact, inseparable from the belt itself.
The invention will now be described purely by way of non-limitative
example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
- Figure 1 illustrates a first embodiment of an accessory according to the invention
in its typical position for use in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle;
- Figure 2 shows in more detail the first embodiment of the accessory according
to the invention; and
- Figures 3 and 4 correspond substantially to Figures 1 and 2, and relate to
a possible embodiment of the solution according to the invention.
In Figures 1 and 3, the reference letter S indicates schematically
a seat of a motor vehicle (for example, it may be the driver's seat of a motor
vehicle) situated beside a pillar M (typically, the intermediate side pillar of
the passenger compartment) of the motor vehicle itself.
According to a solution widely known in the art, a portion of a safety
belt B lies against the pillar M when it is not in use. Specifically, this is the
portion intended to be pulled across the stomach and inclined transversely across
the chest of the body of the person in the seat S. This occurs by way of the insertion
of an attachment element L, usually known as a "tongue", in a coupling element
(not shown) located centrally in the passenger compartment, usually above the so-called
transmission tunnel or at the side of the seat, after the belt B has been pulled
across the body of the user.
All of the above is realised according to criteria widely known in
the art which do not need to be described here as they are not in themselves relevant
to the embodiment or to the comprehension of the invention. This also applies to
the specific way in which the belt B is mounted. By way of example, Figures 1
and 3 refer to a situation in which the belt B, in order to be wound up inside
the pillar, passes through a pivotable support loop element R fixed to the pillar
M. As is well known, entirely different solutions are known, for example, in which
the portion of the belt B unwinds from the interior of the pillar M, emerging therefrom
through an opening, etc. The same is also true as regards the anchorage of the
lower end of the belt B below the mounting position of the accessory according
to the invention, generally indicated 1.
This lower end may, in fact, be anchored to the passenger compartment
in a fixed position, or it may lead to an arch-like formation which enables it
to move forward and backward with respect to the motor vehicle. These are, however,
manufacturing details which are not relevant to understanding the invention: to
this end it is, in fact, noted that it can freely be adapted, without particular
difficulties, to the diverse manufacturing and mounting arrangements of safety
belts B currently in use.
In basic terms, the accessory 1 according to the invention is shaped
as a generally elongate gripper body which projects in the form of an arm from
the belt B towards the seat S (that is, forwardly with reference to the embodiment
shown in Figures 1 and 3).
By gripping this arm at its forward end, the person in seat S is
thus able (indirectly) to grasp the belt B so as to be able to pull it forward.
It is then possible to grip the belt and arrange it so that it passes across the
body in the usual way without having to perform the uncomfortable movement of
reaching backwards with one arm, usually together with a twisting movement of the
body on the seat S.
By comparing Figures 1 and 3, it can easily be appreciated how this
object is achieved when the accessory 1 is mounted or fitted directly on the belt
B itself (Figure 1), or when the accessory 1 is fitted on the tongue L which is,
in turn, mounted on the belt B (Figure 3). These two possible mounting arrangements
fall within a clear common concept, that is, of envisaging the accessory 1 as an
element "associated" (directly as in Figure 1, or indirectly as in Figure 3) with
the belt B.
In both of the embodiments illustrated, the accessory 1 comprises
two parts, that is a grip 2 or forward part in use (substantially identical in
the two embodiments illustrated), and a connector or carrier 3 (which has, for
obvious reasons, different characteristics in the embodiments of Figure 1 and
The grip 2 is preferably formed from a single piece of plastics/rubbery
material (for example, soft PVC, possibly reinforced with filamentary structures)
with an overall length, measured in the general horizontal direction of the accessory
in the in-use condition, of between a minimum of approximately 3 cm and a maximum
of approximately 30 cm. Naturally, these limits must not be considered definitive
since it may, in some circumstances of use, be appropriate to have, for example,
a longer length.
The surface of the grip 2 may be smooth, or provided at least in
part with protuberances such as ribs or small studs, or grooves, to facilitate
a good grip by the user. The presence of grooves, such as, for example, the semicircular
grooves indicated 4 in Figures 2 and 4, also enable the user to shorten the grip
2, for example, by cutting or shearing, so as to adapt its length to the specific
requirements or habits of use.
The grip 2 may be straight as shown in the accompanying drawings,
or it may be inclined at an angle of up to a maximum of approximately 45° with
respect to the horizontal axis referred to in Figures 1 to 4. In this case too,
the value of 45°, indicated as the upper limit of the range of possible angles
of inclination, should not be interpreted as a limitation on the invention.
The grip 2 may also be formed from several pieces joined together
by interconnection systems, or it may have a telescopic structure enabling the
user to adjust its length.
As regards the connection of the grip 2 to the coupling part 3, defined
below for clarity as a "feeder", it is possible to envisage its manufacture as
a single piece or (according to the embodiment referred to, at least implicitly,
below) as a coupling of the kind effected, for example, by means of surfaces 5
which diverge in a general V-shape for coupling with a complementary aperture in
the carrier 3.
This latter is usually formed from a material identical or at least
similar to that of the grip 2, this choice being particularly advantageous whenever
an integral connection is required.
The carrier 3 may be formed as a single piece (for example, if it
is to be fitted at the time of manufacture when the carrier 3, and possibly the
grip 2 also, may in fact be formed on the body of the belt B) or, in the currently
preferred embodiment, it may be formed from two complementary half-shells which
can be opened for mounting on the belt B, and then locked on to the belt B itself.
Preferably, the two complementary parts (indicated 3a and 3b) constituting
the carrier 3 are provided with rapid coupling members of the snap and/or catch
type (for example, of the type having a complementary pin and hole to enable mounting
in the coupled position). These elements are not immediately visible in the drawings.
Alternatively, according to an arrangement which, for reasons of clarity is indicated
in Figure 2 only, the use of screws 6 or similar attachment elements can be envisaged.
Reference numeral 7 indicates the opening in the carrier 3 intended
to receive the end of the grip 2 (where, in the example illustrated, the grip 2
has the two V-shape divergent surfaces). As has already been said, however, the
means by which the grip 2 is connected to the carrier 3 may be different.
In the embodiment shown in Figures 1 and 2, the carrier 3 is in the
form of a collar having, at least along one of its edges, a central notch 8 (preferably
present on both edges of the collar) which enables the centering of the carrier
3 itself on the button element H usually provided on the belt B for holding the
tongue L and preventing it from accidentally slipping down.
More preferably, the notch or notches 8 are provided on both edges
of the carrier 3 so that the position of the accessory 1 on the belt B does not
vary. Naturally, in referring to the presence of the notches 8 it is assumed that
the carrier 3 is formed in such a way that the accessory 1 is freely slidable
with respect to the belt B. This may be preferable, but it is not essential. As
has already been said several times, the accessory 1 may constitute an integral
part of the belt B such that it cannot be removed and/or it is located in a fixed
position with respect thereto. The use of either arrangement is clearly referred
to in the specific embodiments.
In a possible embodiment of the arrangement shown in Figures 1 and
2, the coupling of the grip 2 with the carrier 3 may be by way of hinge means or
a joint (not explicitly shown in the drawings, but of any known type) in such a
way as to enable the orientation of the grip 2 with respect to the carrier 3 fitted
on the belt B.
Orientation may be horizontal (that is, about an approximately vertical
pivot axis) so as to enable, for example, the grip 2 to project into the passenger
compartment. This arrangement may be advantageous, for example, in motor vehicles
in which the side pillars of the passenger compartment are spaced from the seats.
In addition, or as an alternative to the aforesaid horizontal orientation,
a vertical oscillation may be envisaged (that is, about an approximately horizontal
pivot axis - see the arrow y in Figure 1), to enable the grip 2 to be more easily
orientated in the gripping position.
In any case, the capacity to orientate (horizontally and/or vertically)
the carrier 3 with respect to the grip, due to the presence of the aforesaid hinge
or joint means, enables the carrier 3 to "follow" the belt B in the orientation
movement to which it is subjected while being extended over the body of the person
in the seat, while avoiding the possibility of it jamming.
In the embodiment shown in Figures 3 and 4, the carrier 3 preferably
retains a general tubular or sleeve-like structure, which enables it to be fitted
to the tongue L. Preferably, the carrier 3 surrounds most of the body of the tongue
L, leaving the coupling part L1 of the tongue itself to project towards the outside.
For this reason, in the embodiment shown in Figures 3 and 4, the
carrier 3 is essentially constituted from a shaped body (in this case too it can
be constituted from a single piece or from several complementary pieces connected
to each other and to the grip 2 according to the criteria described above with
reference to the embodiment shown in Figures 1 and 3) which is able to surround
the body of the tongue 3. A hole 9 is naturally envisaged in the aforesaid shaped
body for the coupling part L1 of the tongue to pass through.
Naturally, the principle of the invention remaining the same, the
details of construction and the embodiments may be widely varied with respect to
that described and illustrated, without by this departing from the ambit of the