Nils Bohlin’s innovative three-point lap/shoulder belt turns 60 this year and Volvo Trucks is celebrating a million lives saved by the invention by encouraging truck drivers to buckle up.
Working as a Volvo engineer, Bohlin designed the occupant-restraint system in 1959. Although Volvo patented his design, the company decided to leave the patent open, making it available to all vehicle manufacturers to use for free. According to Volvo Trucks, this “rather unconventional decision was made in the greater interest of public safety, to ensure that everyone… could be safer in traffic. This decision proved to be very beneficial to the world.”
Over the years since, the three-point belt has been hailed as the world’s single most important traffic- safety innovation. The belts are estimated to have saved more than one million lives.
However, Anne Wrige Berling, Volvo Truck’s newly appointed traffic & product safety director, believes that more needs to be done to boost use among commercial truck drivers.
The Volvo Trucks Safety Report for 2017 showed that half of all truck drivers killed in traffic accidents would have survived if they had been wearing their seat belt, according to the OEM. “The facts are clear: using the belt is very important also in trucks,” said Berling in a press release. “For example, in rollover accidents, the belt can help protect the driver from being jammed between the truck and the ground.”
Berling added that often seat belts are neglected by drivers because they are considered unnecessary due to the sheer size of trucks. She said that’s far from the truth, stating that not belting up is “clearly a waste of lives. The record shows that there would be so many fewer casualties if all drivers used their belts.”
Berling has extensive experience working on both active and passive safety issues as part of Volvo Group’s product development team. From 2008-2013, she led the Volvo Trucks Accident Research Team, which since 1969 has investigated traffic accidents on site and compiled traffic safety data for use in future product development.
Volvo Trucks also stated that is has “a vision of zero accidents and believes that truck manufacturers, traffic authorities, infrastructure planners, other experts, and drivers around the world need to work together to achieve a safer traffic environment."