Transport: The seat belt is celebrating its 50th birthday

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The seat belt is celebrating its 50th birthday

Transport: The seat belt is celebrating its 50th birthday-seat

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Source: Volvo

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Source: Volvo

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Source: Volvo

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Source: Volvo

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Source: Volvo

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Source: Volvo

After getting into the car, the grip on the seat belt comes first, then the “click" and only then is the car started. In the past 50 years, the seat belt has become the number one lifesaver in road traffic. And who invented it? It was the Swedes. More precisely, automaker Volvo.

D.he Swedes have plenty of humor, which should have been known at least since Abba stage clothes and the Ikea radio spots. It is unlikely, however, that Volvo is just because of the pun and his "Buckelvolvo ”on the campaign "Buckle Up, America! "("Buckle up, America! ”). After all, the hunchbacked fellow was – "By the way, “buckle” also means bump in English – the first production vehicle in which you could ever fix yourself in the seat with a three-point belt. Now the groundbreaking invention of the Swedes is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The actual birthday of the hunchback security Volvo is not until August 13th. On this day in 1959, the cute mobile with the type name PV 544 rolled out of the production hall in Torslanda to start work for a family in Kristianstad.

An unspectacular commitment to the Volvo, a spectacular one for mankind. Because the seat belt in the interior of this vehicle should forever change the world of driving and even that of (survival) life in the future. In Europe, the safety feature reduced the number of fatal accidents by around half. This is confirmed by a study by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), along with many others. In 2005, 11,700 drivers survived serious accidents only because they were buckled up. Had these not been tied down, the number of deaths would have almost doubled that year.

No wonder, then, that the Swedish patent, which was filed on August 29, 1958, was classified in 1985 as one of the eight most important inventions in the humanitarian field of the past century. Its developer, Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin (1920 to 2002) was even awarded the gold medal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering in 1995.

But what was so groundbreaking about this invention, except that it has saved the lives of more than a million people since the 1960s? It’s the third point. Until this development, cars were at best equipped with straps that were only attached at two points. Whether the belt was pulled over the pelvis or attached diagonally as with Volvo – the safety deficiencies and risk of injury to internal organs was almost greater than the protective effect.

With the diagonal suspension, for example, the belt buckle sat directly in front of the chest. When the then Volvo President Gunnar Engellau steered the aircraft engineer Bohlin away from Saab, he had already lost a relative to the safety defects of the two-point belt. Bohlin received the special order to develop a better alternative.

And solved it with flying colors: from now on, the hip and upper body were optimally secured, the belt ran in a V-shape, the point of which pointed towards the floor even under load. Thus, the three-point seat belt not only provided security in frontal crashes, but also protected against being thrown out in the event of a rollover. According to recent analysis by the Prevention Institute in Oakland, California, 75 percent of people who are thrown out of a car in an accident die.

Still, it is astonishing how long it took for seat belts to be enforced in Germany. It was introduced for the front seats in 1974 and five years later for the rear seats. It costs 30 euros in this country if someone is caught in a moving car without a seat belt. Not a sticky stick, but the Federal Highway Research Institute has noticed a decline in the sense of duty in this regard. In 2007, 95 percent of all German citizens still buckled up in their cars – but the proportion fell by two percent compared to the previous year.

According to the Automobile Club of Germany (AvD), this negligence is related to the level of safety provided by assistance systems such as airbags or anti-skid ESP. A deceptive security: "We are convinced that seat belts will continue to be important in 2020 and beyond, ”says Lennart Johansson, who heads Volvo’s occupant safety. Other systems could complement the belt and optimize its effect. "But we can only do without the seat belt when cars have no more accidents. "

How far mankind is from this is shown by the estimate of the World Health Organization (WHO): It puts the number of road deaths worldwide at 1.2 million annually. 90 percent of this is in the countries with low or middle income. Due to the overall increase in motorization, the WHO estimates a steady increase in road deaths by 2030.

The reason is quickly named: Russia, China, India and others motorize themselves with cheap cars without airbags, without ESP, without the awareness of the essential safety equipment and precautions. "The big problem in many congested countries is that too many people are still not wearing seat belts, ”says Hans Nyth, head of the Volvo safety center.

But there is still room for improvement in this regard even in highly developed industrial nations such as the USA. A new record high for seatbelts was set in 2008, but 17 percent of US citizens still remained unbuckled. That is why the state became "Buckle-up Campaign ”again and is called from now on "Click It or Ticket ". The Swedes did not succeed in developing a car for this linguistic joke in such a short time. But the manufacturer of humpback volvos and Snow White coffins will be able to live with that.

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