How Well Do You Know About the History of the Seat Belts?

Julia | 08 - 16 - 2021

Seat belts are one of the most important safety features in any vehicle. From a hatchback to an airplane, seat belts can be found in any vehicle. But do you know about the first car with seatbelts? Let’s take a look at the history of seatbelts and how they have altered the driving experience.

History of Seat Belts

In the late 1800s, Sir George Cayley invented seat belts for use in his glider. He is regarded as one of the most important inventors in the fields of aeronautics. The design was crude and not particularly useful in automobiles.

 In 1885, an American named Edward J Claghorn patented the first seat belt, which was used in New York taxis. It was just a simple strap that went across your lap and held you to a fixed object. Seat belts were becoming more popular, but they were still not widely used.

Who Invented 3 Point Seat Belts?
  • A. Sir George Cayley
  • B. Nils Bohlin
  • C. Philo Farnsworth
  • D. All the Above

In 1959, Nils Bohlin, a Volvo engineer, invented the three-point seat belt. Pilots and racing drivers wore harnesses in the 1950s, but the seat belts installed in cars were rudimentary two-point waist restraints. In crashes, these two-point waist restraints sometimes caused more harm than good.

At the time, a relative of Volvo’s CEO had died in a car accident, prompting the company to promote car safety and build stronger and safer vehicles. Volvo could have made millions off of this, but they chose to make it free for everyone in the name of safety. It is estimated that the 3-point seat belt saved over a million lives from its inception until the year of Nils Bohlin’s death (2002). 

The three-point seatbelt is so popular because Volvo opened up the patent so that any car manufacturer could use it in their design. They decided that because the invention was so significant, it was more valuable as a free life-saving tool than as a profit-making opportunity.

Volvo was the first to include a three-point safety belt as standard equipment. The patented three-point safety belt was introduced in the Nordic markets in 1959 in the Volvo Amazon (120) and PV 544. As a result, Volvo became the first car manufacturer in the world to include safety belts as standard equipment.

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