July 17, 1920 – Birth of Nils Bolin, seatbelt inventor

On this day in 1920 the man who would forever ensure your automotive safety was born. Nils Bolin invented the three point seat belt for Vovlo, receiving a patent for the device on July 10, 1962 (read about it in the post from that day!). Bolin’s life was largely dedicated to improving safety within numerous forms of transportation. Born in Härnösand, Sweden, Bolin studied mechanical engineering at Härnösand Läroverk, graduating in 1939. In 1942 he began working for the aircraft maker Saab as an aircraft designer. During his time there he helped develop ejection seats. In 1958 he joined Volvo as a safety engineer. He is credited with the invention of the modern 3-point safety belt, now a standard safety feature in all cars. Aside from inventing the modern seat belt, Bolin also conducted a study demonstrating its effectiveness. Bolin looked at 28,000 accidents in Sweden and presented a paper on his findings at the 11th Stapp Car Crash Convention. It showed that unbelted occupants sustained fatal injuries throughout the whole speed scale, while no belted occupants were fatally injured in accidents that occurred below 60 mph. He also found that no belted occupant was fatally injured if the passenger compartment remained intact, regardless of speed. This study led the US DOT to require safety belts in passenger cars. Nils Bohlin, a member of the Automotive Hall of Fame, died on September 26, 2002 at the age of 82, from a heart attack. He is buried at Torpa Church in Ramfall, Sweden.

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