July 10,1962: The three-point seatbelt gets patented in the United States
It might not look hip for some, but seatbelts are vital to a safe car ride. They’re also great for avoiding a potential run-in with the cops. Thankfully, we have one Swedish engineer to thank for keeping us secure on the road.
Bohlin for a plan
With a diploma in mechanical engineering, Nils Bohlin was destined to improve the quality of mechanics. One of his first major projects was creating ejection seats for Saab AB. Word of his abilities quickly reached Volvo, who hired him in 1958. The company looked at ways to improve seatbelts in their cars. Automobiles featured two-point seatbelts often found in planes. Upon impact, these seatbelts did little to protect everyone in the vehicle.
Table for three
Bohlin quickly got to work on upgrading seatbelts for Volvo vehicles. In less than a year, he came up with the perfect solution: three-point seatbelts. This seatbelt added an additional belt to protect the body from impact. Volvo loved the idea and implemented it in their 1959 Volvo 122. The car originally had two-point seatbelts, but those were swapped.
Seatbelts for everyone
While Volvo had the three-point seatbelt in their possession, they did something groundbreaking. They allowed other manufacturers to use this seatbelt for their own vehicles. It wasn’t about being the only person on the block with this protective device. They wanted all drivers to feel protected on those long drives.
On July 10, 1962, the United States Patent Office gave Bohlin a patent for his seatbelt. Six years later, all vehicles had this seatbelt installed. “One of the most significant developments in our industry for saving lives and reducing injury has been the three-point seat belt,” former Volvo president Vic Doolan said in a press release. Bohlin might not be instantly recognizable by name, but he’s probably one reason you’re alive today.