For anything, incident, individual or group to get their names registered in the annals of history, exclusivity is absolutely essential. No one pays attention or remembers run-of-the-mill anecdotes or incidents. It is those things that have a certain element of distinction, which are mentioned or talked about long after their existence. It must be noted that one would usually not associate words like sacrifice and kindness with auto makers as their sole motive is to earn profits. However, there is an incident that put Swedish vehicle manufacturer Volvo above the rest of its competitors forever. About over half a century back, a man named Nils Bohlin made a contribution to the automobile industry that can be considered as one of the most important ever. Bohlin, hailing from Sweden, while working for Volvo, designed the three-point seat belt, which is now a common feature in all cars.
Strange as it might seem, but in earlier times safety in cars was a far-fetched concept, which did not get any attention from manufacturers. Bohlin got the opportunity to work with Volvo as a safety engineer, a job that he excelled at tremendously. Before joining Volvo, Nils Bohlin used to work for Saab, a renowned aircraft manufacturer, as an aircraft designer. While his time at Saab, Nils Bohlin was working on the project of development of ejection seats. However, his time and work at Volvo brought him fame and acknowledgement on a global level. A lot of experts consider the three-point seat belt as the most important safety device in the history of cars. It is believed that back in the 1950s, racing drivers and pilots used to wear harnesses and two point waist restraint devices fitted in cars for safety.
According to historians, Bohlin understood the requirement for an effective belt that would be capable of absorbing the force across the entire body. In order to facilitate this, he designed a prototype that geometrically formed a V shape and pointed towards the floor. Needless to say, it turned out be a big favour to the entire world and people who have driven cars since then. The work of this celebrated Swedish designer earned him a medal from the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Science and induction in the Automotive Hall of Fame. Industry experts and car historians, over the years, have given a lot of credit to Volvo for allowing every manufacture to use this design in their models. Volvo, after the invention took place, made the patent open for all firms, which is quite incredible given its value.
Instead of keeping the concept restricted for their use, Volvo decided that the invention was much more valuable than any of their commercial interests. Top officials from the Swedish manufacturer decided that by making the patent open, it would be doing great service to the entire automobile fraternity and would also help in saving a lot of lives. Statistics, years after this invention, have shown what a great decision it was by Volvo to let the world have access to a modern-day marvel. Alan Dessell, a top official from the firm, in just a few words, described the philosophy behind this decision. “The decision to release the three-point seat belt patent was visionary and in line with Volvo’s guiding principle of safety.” Astonishingly, the invention of three-point seat belt has saved around a million lives till date, according to reports. In addition, by wearing a seat belt, the chances of collision and a subsequent injury are reduced by around 50 per cent.
To put things in a nutshell, Bohlin and Volvo, years ago, came together to give the world something that vehicles are unthinkable without in the modern day scenario. Volvo, till date, is considered to be the maker of cars that are extremely safe and set benchmarks in terms of security.