Seat Belts: 60 Years of Saving Lives

November 14th, 2019 by

It has been 60 years since Nils Bohlin, a mechanical engineer invented the three-point safety belt for Volvo. The seat belt was actually invented by George Cayley, an English engineer in the late 1800’s to keep pilots in their gliders. The first patented seat belt was created by Edward J. Claghorn in 1885 to protect tourists in New York taxis.

seat belt

When Bolin died in 2002, Volvo estimated that more than 1 million lives had been saved by seat belts. In the U.S. seat belts were originally an optional feature on vehicles. Seat belt laws did not take hold until the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 was passed. Since then American vehicles are required to have seat belts.

The seat belt is considered one of the best safety innovations in history. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the national use rate was nearly 90% in 2018.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concludes that seat belts reduce the risk of death of 45% and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%, and prevent both drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash.

The National Ad Council ran “Click It or Ticket” ad campaigns for 25 years. And by 1995, all states but New Hampshire had Click It or Tickets laws of some kind. Interestingly only 24 states, as well as, D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands have primary seat belt laws for front seat passengers. An additional 15 state have secondary laws for front seat passengers. Thirty states, D.C. and two U.S. territories have laws that require rear seat belt use.

Despite all of this, it is estimated that over 27 million people choose not buckle up. In 2017, nearly half of them were killed in car crashes. Vehicles have many safety features, but the seat belt is still the primary defense if you are in an accident. Place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and the lap belt across your hips.

AAA estimates that more than 55 million Americans will hit the road this Thanksgiving. The National Safety Council estimates that car crash fatalities increase by as much as 7% over Thanksgiving weekend.

buckle up

In the automotive business we are attuned to the realities of accidents. There is rarely a day that an accident vehicle does not arrive in our Service Department. Similarly, we too often find ourselves helping customers look for a new car because theirs was totaled in accident.

As you head out for the holidays, and every day. Please BUCKLE UP.