Standard safety belts: A world first from Volvo
Even the very earliest days of motoring history were marred by accidents, injuries and fatalities.
Although it was soon realised that car occupants should be secured in their seats - a safety belt was patented as long ago as 1907 - it was not until the 1950s that development really got under way. The Von Dšbeln belt from 1952 resembled a modern three-point safety belt in many ways, but it had only one anchorage point in the floor behind the seat. This was so low down that it led to unnecessarily high stresses on the human body.
The first designs which were approved according to Swedish standards appeared in 1958, the two-point diagonal belt being the most common early solution.
In the late 1950s, however, Volvo designed a threepoint belt which was easy to use, comfortable and afforded effective protection. It was patented in 1958 and introduced in 1959 in the Volvo P120 and the PV544, making Volvo the first in the world to offer safety belts as standard car equipment. From 1963 it was standard on the front seats of all Volvo models and from 1967 it was also standard on the outer rear-seat positions.
The three-point safety belt in the rear centre seat was available as an accessory from 1986, and in 1990 Volvo became the first in the world to add this to the list of standard features.
In order to eliminate manual adjustment of the belt to suit each individual occupant, the belt was supplemented with a reel which appeared on the front seats in 1968 and on the outer rear seats in 1971.
In 1989, Volvo introduced the belt tensioner in order to eliminate slack and restrain the occupant's forward movement more effectively and in 1991 the automatically hight adjusting reel.
Although modern safety belts are very good as they are, constant development is under way in the search for further improvements.
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