Fifty years of the safety belt

Pete Mait

Nobody can say precisely how many lives have been saved by the three-point safety belt since the 1960s, as no standard global statistics have been kept during this period, but it is estimated that the figure could be as high as one million. This invention has additionally prevented many serious injuries.

So there are very few people who can claim to have saved as many lives as Nils Bohlin. The Volvo engineer first presented his three-point safety belt on 13th August 1959. This was the date on which the lifesaving device was first fitted to the cabin of a Volvo PV544. Volvo still lead the way in terms of safety innovations and, despite the more recent introduction of airbags and other features, the humble safety belt remains the most important development in the history of road safety. The video clip presented here provides a brief review of how the safety belt has developed and of possible future advances in safety equipment.