Thursday, May 26

Ejection seats have saved thousands of lives. The seat belt is the best example


Chances are, when I say Volvo, you think of safety. The Swedish brand has managed to be considered as one of the safer manufacturers in the world, despite the fact that most of the manufacturers already have many of the systems they implement.


In fact, from 2024, all new vehicles sold in Europe must have an ADAS aid package that will significantly increase driving safety. But that is another story at hand.

Although Volvo now has security systems that are already used in many other competing models, the firm allowed other manufacturers to use what was probably the security system. more effective of automobile history: the seat belt.

As simple as effective

Although there are still those who omit its use, with harsher penalties since this year, the seat belt has become an essential element in any modern vehicle. Its use has saved hundreds of thousands of lives and for three years it belonged exclusively to Volvo.

And it is that in 1959, the Swedish firm launched the first vehicle with a three-point seat belt on the market. As Nils Bohlin, its true inventor, later explained to the New York Times, it was about finding a simple security solution that could also be put on with one hand.

The concept was as simple as strapping the driver to the seat at the bottom and top of the trunk. Separately, the system worked but, all together, its mechanism was very simple to activate and also very effective, so they decided to implement it.

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Aware of the good result and that the invention could save thousands of lives, Volvo decided release the patent soon after so that any manufacturer could use this simple system.

so as not to fly away

But, in addition, the invention of the safety belt has another curiosity. Before being hired by Volvo, Nils Bohlin worked as an engineer for Saab’s aerospace division.

During all this time, Bohlin focused his work on developing ejection seats for airplanes, with the aim that passengers could be ejected from the plane before it hit the ground in a fatal accident.

This was the DAR, the first electric car manufactured by hand in Spain in 1946

But fame came to Bohlin with the seat belt, an invention that, curiously, sought to avoid by all means the contrary effects that it had developed up to now. As he himself demonstrated with a study, staying glued to the seat in the event of an accident was the best option and avoided serious injuries in almost all accidents when driving below 100 km/h.

His invention allowed him to be recognized by his country as one of the most important figures in the field of safety and automotive. In fact, in 1989 he was inducted into the Safety and Health Hall of Fame, four years after retiring from Volvo. Also, in 1999 he was inducted into the American Automobile Hall of Fame.

Image: Chris Martin

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