Passenger Safety - By Mark Pickles


Years ago, while enjoying the Pacific Northwest Trail Jamboree, we
took pause from the trail high on a ridge line with a spectacular
view of Mount Raineer. A CJ-5 parked next to my Jeep. It was a 95
degree day with brilliant blue sky and intense afternoon sun. The
owner of the CJ-5 had his wife and two children aboard. The kids
were stuffed in the back seat with full sun exposure and no roll bar
protection whatsoever. Nor did they have seat-belts on if they were
even available. They were dehydrated with misery written on their
faces. I could not help but reach out to offer help. I asked the
driver if he would like the tarp I had stored to jury rig shade for
the kids. He declined saying, "the kids are fine...they are used to
it". The expression on his wife's face said something else but she
offered no argument.

This angered me. I told the driver that jeeping was not about just
him and that he needed to take passenger comfort and safety serious.
Due to the heat and his ignorance, he exploded and laid several
choice words upon me. Rather than explode back, I made the conscious
decision to make passenger safety and comfort first on my priority list.

Kids grow. I am of the opinion that the back seat of a CJ-7 will
only seat small kids with comfort and then again for only a small
portion of a day. To prove my theory, take a look at my teenage
daughter in the stock back seat of a CJ-7:

 


Photo one with stock seat.

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As you can see in the first two photos, there is little to no comfort
for her. Look where the back of the seat measures relative to her
spine. I too sat in the back and swiftly concluded seat
modifications were in order. Also note how ill protected she is by
the roll cage in photo two.

As part of my preparations for our upcoming trek to Moab, I ordered a
buck seat with padding from Summit Racing. I also got some tube
steel and crafted a stand-alone roll bar for the rear passenger
area. I know some would have integrated the rear roll bar into the
primary roll cage but I must confess that I really like the look and
design of the primary cage and that most of the time I jeep with just
one passenger with the rear stuffed full of gear vs. people. Moab,
however, is a family affair which required a third seat. There is
room in the back of a CJ to mount two Summit seats side by side. The
single seat is centered in the body tub. Also note the roll bar hand
straps that wrap the fire extinguishers and the bicycle brackets and
water bottles that allow passenger hydration in photo three:

Photo three Summit Racing Seat.

 

The following photos four and five show the new level of comfort
provided for teenagers and adults alike. I was sure to add racing
harness seat belts into the fit and finish:

Photo four all snug and comfortable and yes she has a DVD player
within easy reach.

Photo five.

I added a backpack affair to the back of the front passenger seat
which holds snacks and my daughters magazines.

Happy Trails,

Mark S. Pickles