How Was the Modern Seat Belt Invented?

How Was the Modern Seat Belt Invented?

The seat belt is an important invention that has saved millions of lives. And when it was first invented, it was designed for airplanes, not cars! Seat belts began to be used in cars over time. However, it cannot be said that it was very popular in the first period! Because it wasn’t a “safe” thing back then! In some cases, it was even considered dangerous! But with the changes it has undergone over the years, it has taken its current reliable form. Here is the emergence process of the seat belt, our most important safety measure in traffic…

George Cayley’s first design

safety belt

The first example that could be considered the “ancestor” of the modern seat belt was designed by British inventor George Cayley. Cayley focused his studies on “aviation”. For this reason, the “ancestor” of the harness was developed for a glider also designed by Cayley. Cayley had done this work on the seat belt years before the invention of motor cars. In this way, he showed what a visionary inventor he was… However, “Cayley’s seat belt” was not a stand-alone invention! The gutter, on the other hand, was a rather “primitive” design. Because it was just a small part of Cayley’s original design, the glider!

For the modern seat belt to be invented, cars would have to hit the road.

The seat belt developed by Edward J. Claghorn

safety belt

The first patent for the seat belt was received by Edward Claghorn from the USA on February 10, 1885. But it is not possible to see Claghorn as the inventor of the modern seat belt. Because the belt that Claghorn patented was not designed to ensure human safety on automobile journeys! It had a much simpler and singular function. Claghorn’s seat belt was used especially to “hold” the tourists coming to New York in the seat of the taxis!

Toward the modern seat belt…

safety belt

Seat belts, the first examples of which were unearthed by Cayley and Claghorn, continued to exist through various changes. But it wasn’t common at all until the middle of the 20th century. Because it was quite difficult to put on these belts. Plus it was pretty annoying! On the other hand, it did not provide any significant “safety” in the event of an accident!

However, in late 1940, “C. A doctor named “Hunter Shelden” noticed something while treating patients who came to his clinic for a traffic accident: Most people who get injured in traffic accidents are injured by poorly designed seat belts!

After Doctor Shelden realized that seat belts were not “reliable”, he set to work on making cars safer. He has done important work on many safety measures such as seat belts, airbags and raised head restraints (to prevent impacts).

Shelden’s pioneering work helped raise safety standards for automobiles in the United States. In 1966, the “National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act” was enacted, which regulates the safety standards of motor vehicles. 2 years later, US President Lyndon B. Johnson signed 2 more laws making it mandatory to wear seat belts in all passenger cars…

“Reliable” belt designed by Nils Bohlin

It was understood that the seat belt had a vital function… But still, seat belts had various flaws. For example, wearing a seat belt was still not safe enough. In some accidents, it even caused internal bleeding! On the other hand, he did not reach the required level of comfort. For these reasons, on long car journeys, people avoided using their seat belts…

However, a Swedish engineer named Nils Bohlin was going to eliminate all these flaws with the new seat belt he would develop.

Gunnar Engellau, head of a Swedish car company, lost one of his relatives in a traffic accident. In this sad accident, the old model seat belt failed to do its job! Thereupon, Engallau hired Nils Bohlin, an engineer at a rival firm, and asked him to design a “reliable belt”…

three-point seat belt

safety belt

The new belt designed by Bohlin was named the “three-point seat belt”. In this new design, the mechanical locking system added to the V-shaped belts minimized injuries and fatalities during the accident… Drivers and passengers finally got a seat belt they could “trust”… On the other hand, “Bohlin’s seat belt” was much more comfortable than the old belts and It was also very easy to use.

The car company of which Engallau was president granted the patent of the “three-point seat belt” free of charge to other companies that wanted to use the design of Bohlin. In this way, Bohlin’s design became widespread and continued to save people’s lives regardless of which brand of car he preferred.

This new seat belt developed by Bohlin has changed many things in the automobile industry. It has saved the lives of millions of people since the first day it was used. Bohlis’ “modern” seat belt, which has been in our lives for more than 60 years, still holds the title of being the most “reliable” and comfortable design…

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