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Clunk, Click, Every Trip

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August 14, 2009
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Illustration of a three-point seatbelt.

It’s a date that may have passed you by, but yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the humble seat belt – or more precisely the three point safety belt – patented by Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin in 1958 and first fitted to a production Volvo PV544 on the 13th August 1959.

Before this date, seat belts had been fitted to cars since the 1930’s , but all were of the two-point chest or lap-belt variety. It has been estimated that over 1 million lives have been saved by this innovation, and having spoken with members of the emergency services, it is clear that many more could still be saved if everyone made use of the belts fitted to their cars. In fact, one fireman told me that people not wearing seatbelts account for the majority of the fatalities he sees, a sobering thought, when you consider that only a hardcore 10% of motorists fail to buckle up.

RoSPA has an interesting potted history of seat belts, but people of a certain age will remember this classic piece of TV cheese masquerading as a safety film…

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