Belt, Buckled: A History of the World’s Many Prevalent Safety Gadget

Seatbelts in vehicles have actually saved millions lives, and high-speed highways and laws make them absolutely required. Although the idea is over 100 years old, belts weren’t all that common in cars till the mid-20th century. They were initially used in trains, and then in airplanes. Autos were slow to catch on. Nils Bohlin, an engineer for Volvo, understood there were problems with the old-fashioned two-point seat belt. He came up with the style for the three-point seatbelt that secures the chest with a diagonal strap. Bohlin filed a patent for the style in 1958. It was plainly a vast improvement in safety, however that didn’t suggest automobile business remained in any hurry to adopt it.

For years, the vehicle market’s own handling of safety belt left a lot to be desired. Seat belts, 1949-1956, a 1979 report produced at the request of the National Highway Traffic Security Administration, highlighted the reality that making cars and truck safety a matter of consumer choice resulted in extremely different outcomes amongst producers.

In 1955, Ford attempted to stress security alternatives in its cars, including the offering of seat belts, which was a novel option for automobiles at the time. The marketing campaign was spearheaded by Robert McNamara, a Ford executive who simply a few years later saw his profile increase significantly as the U.S. Defense Secretary. However while Ford’s efforts at security were genuine and drove interest in the automobiles, the company was contending versus General Motors, that made no effort to emphasize safety in its own vehicles at the time– rather focusing on more conventional issues among car producers, such as speed. In a marketing war, speed triumphed.

Volvo and Bohlin could have reaped countless rewards by implementing their patent rights as federal security standards were enacted in the auto market, however the length of time would that take, the number of lives would be lost, and what if another style ended up being standard instead? What if they just offered away the rights to the three-point seatbelt? Ernie Smith has the story of the seat belt at Tedium.-via Digg The post Belt, Buckled: A History of the World’s Most Common Safety Device appeared first on WSH Asia.

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