Buckle Up Your Seatbelt and Behave

by William Ecenbarger in Smithsonian

"In the middle of the last century, Volvo began seeking improvements to seat belts to protect drivers and passengers in its vehicles. When the Swedish automaker tried a single strap over the belly, the result was abdominal injuries in high-speed crashes. The engineers also experimented with a diagonal chest restraint. It decapitated crash-test dummies.

Volvo then turned to a 38-year-old mechanical engineer named Nils Bohlin, who had developed pilot ejector seats for the Saab aircraft company. Bohlin knew it would not be easy to transfer aerospace technology to the automobile. "The pilots I worked with in the aerospace industry were willing to put on almost anything to keep them safe in case of a crash," he told an interviewer shortly before he died, in 2002, "but regular people in cars don't want to be uncomfortable even for a minute."

 



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