#IPBday – The seat belt is 60 years old …

On August 29, 1958 Mr. Nils BOHLIN (or rather his employer VOLVO) filed a Swedish patent application for a so-called 3 ponits safety belt. Today the safety seatbelt is so commonplace that one has the impression that it has always existed, while despite its simplicity a posteriori, it is undeniably an invention that has given a considerable advance. By 1961, more than three quarters of new cars were equipped with seatbelts. The same belt is found in cars manufactured every day.

It may also be the case for some of the solutions you have imagined, but which would difficult to market without a patent.

Nils BOHLIN was already inventor nominated in more than fifteen patent applications at the time of the patent application on the safety seat belt. He was previously an avionics engineer for the company SAAB (SVENSKA AEROPLAN AKTIEBOLAGET), applicant of the aforementioned patent applications. After working on ejector seats and their belts, Nils BOHLIN would have been hired by VOLVO to work on car seatbelts, which turned out to be a great success. Nils BOHLIN wanted to provide a belt that would “hold the upper and lower body in a physiologically favourable manner and is easy to connect and disconnect”.

The seat belt, however, took a long time to be accepted.

BOHLIN had to demonstrate the effectiveness of his seatbelt in a study of 28,000 accidents in Sweden. He presented a paper at the 11th Stapp Car Crash Convention. The unattached occupants sustained fatal injuries throughout the speed scale, while none of the occupants with a seat belt were fatally injured at a speed below 60 mph. In addition, no occupants fastened to the belt were fatally injured when the cockpit remained intact.

This study resulted in the US Department of Transportation requiring three-point seat belts being mandatory in American cars. And it was not until 1976 that the use of the seatbelt was made mandatory in Germany.

This is how a little idea turns the world around…


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