The history of seat belts can be traced to designs created by English engineer George Cayley in the early 1800s. The first United States patent for a seat belt was granted to Edward J. Claghorn of New York. This early seat belt design was followed by other enhancements to Claghorn’s basic safety belt, culminating in the three-point seat belt that is standard in most modern automobiles.
More facts about the seat belt:
- Nils Bohlin, who helped develop aircraft ejection seats, is often credited with the development of the three-point seat belt design. Patented in 1959, the belt was included as part of the standard equipment on Volvos beginning that same year. Several other automakers, including Ford and Nash, had offered similar belts as options during the 1940s and 1950s.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, seat belts have a significant effect on the frequency of fatalities and injuries that occur as the result of automobile crashes. On average, the belts reduce deaths and injuries by about 50 percent.
- Men are less likely to use seat belts than women, by a margin of about 10 percent. In addition, drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 are less likely to use seat belts than drivers who are older than 34.