It seems hard to imagine a time when vehicles did not have seat belts, but it’s 60 years ago that they were invented, by Volvo.
It was Nils Bohlin, a Volvo engineer, that invented the three-point seat belt in 1959. Today the seat belt is still seen as the world’s most important traffic safety innovation ever and is estimated to have saved more than one million lives. However, some drivers still neglect to use this simple device. “This is clearly a waste of lives,” said Anna Wrige Berling, Volvo Truck’s newly-appointed Traffic & Product Safety Director. “The record shows that there would be so many fewer casualties if all drivers used their belts.”
When Nils Bohlin developed the seat belt, although the design was patented, Volvo decided the patent was to be left open, making it available to all vehicle manufacturers to use for free. This rather unconventional decision was made in the greater interest of public safety, to ensure that everyone, independently of whether they drove a Volvo or not, could be safer in traffic.
But in many parts of the world seat belt usage, especially among HGV drivers, is still far from 100%. “The Volvo Trucks Safety Report for 2017 showed that half of all truck drivers killed in traffic accidents would have survived if they had been wearing their seat belt,” explained Anna.
Volvo takes safety seriously and is still sharing its knowledge. “We are sharing our traffic safety findings widely and have offered our knowledge and expertise to universities, research laboratories and partner organisations,” said Anna. “Whenever traffic safety is discussed, we want to participate. This helps us learn even more about the issues, the potential solutions and how to design the trucks of the future.”
Photos: Nils Bohlin, Anna Wrige Berling