The world's first Volvo car with standard-fit three-point safety belts was delivered to the Volvo dealer in Sweden on August 13 1959
Feed out, stretch, click and pull taut. A simple movement of the hand and the belt is in place - at the same time the risk of fatality or serious injury in a collision is cut by more than 50 percent. Volvo’s three-point safety seatbelt turned 50 on August 13, 2009. To this day, the three-point safety belt remains the car's single most important safety feature. It is the most widely used and most significant safety innovation in the automobile's history.
The early days:
It is the belt that links together man and car. It is the belt that restrains the car's occupants in an impact. At the same time, the occupants are held in place in the car and do not risk being thrown around inside the passenger compartment or hurled out of the vehicle in more complex accident scenarios. It was only towards the end of the 1950s that the car safety belt evolved into its current design, thanks to Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin.
There were different types of belt before that. Back in the 1930s, US doctors were beginning to impose demands that cars should be equipped with safety belts.
The two-point lap belt was the most common solution, but there were also different variants of the three-point safety belt. The problem was that they did not protect their users sufficiently, especially not at high speeds.
Former aviation engineer Nils Bohlin -who before moving to Volvo worked on the development of catapult seats, among other things - understood early on the forces generated in a collision.
An innovation for the world to use freely:
The most important properties of Nils Bohlin's design were that the system consisted of a lap belt and a diagonal body belt, that the belt straps were anchored at a low attachment point beside the seat, that the belt geometry formed a "V" shape with the point directed toward the floor, and that the belt stayed in position and did not move under load. The very same principles apply to this day - every time you use the safety seat belt. In the Nordic market, the Volvo PV544 and Volvo Amazon (120) were the first cars to feature this world innovation. Volvo was thus the first car maker to equip its cars as standard with three-point safety belts. The invention was patented with what is known as an open patent that is to say anyone who wanted was granted free use of the design.
A giant step towards increased safety had now been taken, but the three-point safety belt still did not achieve an immediate breakthrough. It would take another few years before the vast majority of customers and the rest of the automobile industry realized the safety belt's effectiveness as a lifesaver.
Roula Beiruty, marketing Manager of Volvo Cars Middle East said: “Use of the safety belt is the most significant factor for boosting traffic safety. The three-point safety belt has been saving lives for 50 years. There are no exact figures for how many lives the safety belt has saved as there are no traffic safety statistics globally coordinated. However, it is estimated that more than a million people were saved by [i] the safety belt, and it has saved many times that number of people from serious injuries.”
As one of the leading car manufacturers in the field of road safety, Volvo gave to the world one of the most important safety innovations which is the 3 point seatbelt. Volvo will pursue its research in the world of road and car safety in order to create a safer road environment for all motorists and passengers.