Yesterday, I stopped at the foot of my driveway to get the mail. When I got back in the car, I buckled my seat belt…and drove to the garage. Why? Was I expecting a head-on collision in the eight yards it took to reach the front door? No, but driving any distance without a seat belt feels really weird, and old habits die hard.
And as habits go, buckling your seat belt everywhere you go is a pretty good one to have.
A birthday to celebrate
In 1959, when Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin invented the three-point seat belt, some, but by no means all, cars featured two-point harnesses. Unfortunately, they didn’t work too well and weren’t especially comfortable. Even if they had some life-saving potential, drivers just didn’t want to wear them.
With a few design improvements, Bohlin created the technology that was effective, comfortable, and simple to operate.
This August, that simple bundle of fabric and metal turns 60 years old. In its relatively short lifetime, it’s delivered outsized results. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concurs:
Seat belts are the single most effective safety technology in the history of the automobile. A NHTSA study of lives saved by vehicle technologies found that, between 1960 and 2012, seat belts saved more lives—329,715, to be exact—than all other vehicle technologies combined, including air bags, energy-absorbing steering assemblies, and electronic stability control.
What you can do
Still there’s more to be done. Consumer Reports estimates that, in spite of the seat belt’s incredible safety record, almost 25 million drivers and passengers don’t use one.
But you can do your part to get America to buckle up. Next time you take a customer for a test drive, be sure to point out the car’s best feature – the simple but mighty seat belt.
JKR Automotive Advertising: The car dealer ad agency.