Few people have saved as many lives as Nils Bohlin - the Volvo engineer who in 1959 invented the V-type three-point safety belt. A design as obvious as it was intelligent, perfectly suited to the seat occupant's body. To this very day, the safety belt still provides the most effective protection in the event of an accident.
Many people believe the three-point safety belt has not changed over the past forty years. They are right. And wrong. The belt's ingeniously simple basic design is the same. The difference today is that the belt is part of a high-tech safety system under constant development.
On Thursday August 13, 1959, the world's first car with standard-fit three-point safety belts - a Volvo PV544 - was delivered to the Volvo dealer in the Swedish town of Kristianstad. Over the next 50 years, the V-shaped three-point safety belt saved well over one million lives.
Volvo Cars was invited to donate its historic three-point safety belt to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The museum will officially accept the gift at a ceremony today, July 14. The safety belt is part of a larger collection from eight different donors in which each article represents a significant aspect of 75 years of safety-enhancement work in the car industry.