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July 10, 1962 – The three point seat belt is patented

Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin received a US patent for his three-point automobile safety belt “for use in vehicles, especially road vehicles” on this day in 1962. Volvo had hired Bohlin four years earlier as the company’s first chief safety engineer. At that time, seatbelts were rarely used outside of auto racing because the common lap belt system of the era often resulted in internal injuries in accidents.

Above: 1963 Volvo P1800.
Top: Nils Bohlin demonstrating his invention. Courtesy Volvo. By Lars-Göran Lindgren Sweden – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

To remedy the problem Bohlin designed the three point seat belt system still used today. The primary advantage of Bohlin’s design is its ability to secure both the upper and lower parts of the body in a collision. The design would become standard in all production automobiles by the end of the 1970s. Bohlin made this possible by releasing the rights to his patent, allowing other automakers the opportunity to use it and ensure the safety of motorists everywhere.

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