In the beginning of the 1950s, cars had no safety belts. Volvo, however, were among the early pioneers who started working with and later fitting these lifesaving devices. At first there were the anchor points at the front in 1957, followed by the two-point diagonal belts which were not as effective as required. However, from the late summer in 1959, the ingenious three-point safety belt was introduced by Volvo. It was, and still is, the greatest single life saving solution in the history of the automobile.
The Volvo 3-point safety belt is the greatest single life saving solution in the history of the automobile.
The man behind this was Nils Bohlin. He came from the aircraft industry and had worked with ejector seats in jet fighters. But he also had a lot of insight in keeping man in place during retardation. He was convinced that he had found the simple and efficient solution for keeping the occupant safely and properly seated in case of an accident. A diagonal belt over the chest, safely anchored in the B-post of the car, then across the lap in hip height with both belts attached to a fixed anchor-point below the hip of the occupant. Bohlin also wanted the belt to be handled using only one hand.
Nils Bohlin was the man behind the ingenious geometry of the 3-point safety belt.
The patent application was filed in 1958 and on Thursday August 13 1959, the world's first car with standard-fitted three-point safety belts for the front seats was delivered – a black Volvo PV544 and it went to a customer in Kristianstad in the south of Sweden.
In 1967, Volvo introduced thrtee-point belts in the rear seat and in 1969 the inertia-reel belt saw the light of the day. This technical solution was something of a revolution and meant agiant leap forward in terms of efficiency and comfort. In 1986, all seat positions in all Volvo models – including the estates – had three-point safety belts.
Volvo was the first car manufacturer to fit a 3-point safety belt also the rear centre position in estate cars.
To continuously work with improving the safety belt efficency is a must for Volvo Car Corporation. And Bohlin's basic principle is still used, in all cars, in every country around the world. Knowledge saves lives. The belt really proves that. It has done so for the last 50 years and will do it also for the next 50 years to come.