D. 3-point Safety Belt
modern three-point seat belt that we all recognize today was created by Volvo
engineer, Nils Bohlin, in 1958. Considered one of the most important innovations in automobile safety, Volvo pioneered this development in
technology, quickly installing the seat belts as standard in all its vehicles.
hard to believe now in this age of lane-departure warning systems and
radar-guided automatic braking, but once upon a time, safety in cars was kind
of an afterthought.
Before 1959, only two-point lap belts were available in
automobiles; for the most part, the only people who regularly buckled up were
race car drivers. In 1958, Volvo hired Bohlin, who had
designed ejector seats for Saab fighter airplanes in the 1950s, to be the
company’s first chief safety engineer.
Bohlin had worked with the more elaborate four-point harnesses in airplanes, and knew that system would be untenable in an automobile. In designing the new seat belt, he concentrated on providing a more effective method of protecting driver and passenger against the impact of the swift deceleration that occurred when a car crashed.
Within a year, Bohlin had developed the three-point seat belt, introduced in Volvo cars in 1959. The new belts secured both the upper and lower body; its straps joined at hip level and buckled into what Bohlin called “an immovable anchorage point” below the hip, so that they could hold the body safely in the event of a crash.
In the interests of safety, Volvo made the new seat belt design available to other car manufacturers for free; it was required on all new American vehicles from 1968 onward. Since 1959, engineers have worked to enhance the three-point belt, but the basic design remains Bohlin’s.
In the United States alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts save more than 11,000 lives each year.