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Seatbelt Design is a key factor in preventing fatalities upon impact

We can all thank Nils Ivar Bohlin if we are in a car accident and our three-point seatbelt restraint prevents injury. Why? Becuase Nils Ivar Bohlin invented the three point seat-belt restraint system.

Mr. Bohlin's three-point seat belt design, which was patented in 1958, has saved thousands and maybe millions of people who were in serious automobile or truck accidents. Mr. Bohlin began his investigation into the restrain system as a Swedish aircraft engineer at SAAB. When he moved to Volvo, this gave him the opportunity to improve on the seat belt design.

In order to reduce the effects of forces on impact, automotive engineers design seat belts to hold individuals securely in their seats. The object is to prevent the occupant from hitting other parts of the car interior --that is to remain "in their seats" during the turbulence.

Well designed seat belts fit across strongest parts of the body -- those body parts that can withstand the greatest forces of a collision. Thus, a lap belt goes across the bony pelvis and the shoulder belt goes over the rib cage and shoulders.

The design seat belts is very important. When it is done wrong, innocent people are harmed. In fact, 16 million seat belts were recently been brought into question by Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization. Public Citizen has made us aware that reports of 14 deaths and 19 serious injuries were attributed to the unlatching of GM's Gen-3 seat belts. It seems that GM did not want to use the design of Mr. Bohlin!

One must keep in mind that in a serious collision, large forces are at work. The design of the GM seat belt features a slightly protruding release button -- not a good idea when an impact with jostling about is occurring. In this defective design, it is more likely that the passneger could inadvertently open the belt by knocking into it during a rollover. Better designed seat belts have a flush button.

The defects in the Gen-3 seat belt were superceded by replacement by the Gen-4 on the Dodge Durango and Dodge Dakota, but defective belt design still remains standard on many other models.


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