California Will Dissect Kevin Hart’s Hellcat-Powered Barracuda to Shape Future Laws
If Hart’s injuries were caused by the lack of safety devices, owning a classic could get more expensive in California.
Just over a week ago, stand-up comedian Kevin Hart's Hellcat-swapped 1970 Plymouth Barracuda met an unfortunate end after the individual piloting his car lost control of the Plymouth and sent it rolling down an embankment. Now, TMZ reports that California officials are using the accident as a means to shape future vehicle legislation.
Specifically, TMZ says that its sources within the California Highway Patrol report the department will have the vehicle torn down to inspect every nut and bolt, potentially shaping new vehicle safety laws.
Disassembling a car after an accident with a major injury or fatality is commonplace for the department and typically takes around three to four weeks. During the first week, which has already passed since Hart's accident, the vehicle(s) involved are stripped down to determine the cause of the crash. Over the following three weeks (which we are presently in), the department and its forensic experts evaluate the pieces of evidence uncovered during the disassembly and finalize a report on the matter.
The above seems fairly mundane given a law enforcement agency's typical involvement in an accident, however, the injuries sustained by Hart and the high-profile nature of this particular case might mean there will be official recommendations on changes to existing legislation.
According to a CHP source in the original reporting, the department is placing safety harnesses square in their sights—specifically, the absence of safety harnesses found in modified vehicles. While Hart's Barracuda did have seat belts, it was not required to have a five-point harness, nor would it be required to have a certification if installed.
The particular source inside of the department reportedly acknowledges that even if there were mechanical problems with the vehicle that resulted in the crash, a safety harness could have minimized the back injuries sustained by Hart and the driver of his vehicle in the accident.
Reportedly, the department also wants to ensure that the Hellcat-swapped Barracuda was restored properly. If not, it could raise more eyebrows within the agency. The department is said to have made previous legislative recommendations that helped to shape the restoration of salvaged cars. California as a whole even has laws regarding unlicensed vehicle dismantling to combat environmental, financial, and safety concerns.
So what does this mean for the future of modified vehicles in California? Perhaps nothing—but according to the source within the CHP, the accident involving Hart's car is being placed in line with the numerous other accidents involving classic cars that have resulted in injuries due to not having proper safety restraints.
If the CHP ends up recommending that all modified classics be required to implement with safety harnesses and it passes into law, owning a classic might get a little more expensive in the Golden State.