The man who saved millions of lives (1958)

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Thursday, 21 September 2017

1958 -

Whether you’re used to the British slogan ‘Click it or ticket’ or to the more American version ‘Buckle up. It’s the law’, everybody knows, seat belts must be worn. Seat belt legislation is relatively new. The three-point safety belt as we know it was invented in 1959 by Niels Ivar Bohlin. He died today in 2002 after suffering a heart attack.

Safe and comfortable
In 1958 Bohlin joined Volvo as a safety engineer, after engineering aircraft ejection seats. By then seat belts in cars were only a single strap with a buckle over the lap. Those seat belts could cause serious injuries to body organs in high-speed crashes. Bohlin searched for a substitute that protected the upper body as well. His lap-and-shoulder belt turned out to be a safe and comfortable solution.

Risk of death and injuries
Nowadays the three-point safety belts are set in almost all new cars. With reason. Research tells us that in case of a crash, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45%. Risk of serious injury is cut by 50%. No wonder Bohlin was decorated with numerous awards and is referred to as the man who saved millions of lives.


Retro Volvo

Picture source: Shutterstock

360 trivia fact
Bohlin believed that his design was just as important as his engineering. ‘The pilots I worked with were willing to put on almost anything to keep them safe, but people in cars don’t want to be uncomfortable even for a minute,’ he said.


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