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      History Of Seatbelts : From An Optional Equipment To A Standard Feature | Details Inside

      Seatbelt is the most basic safety feature install in a car, plays one of the most crucial roles in saving the lives in case of an accident. No matter which car you drive or even take a ride in, you will see there are seatbelts for all passengers.

      But there was a time when seatbelts were not consider as important as now-a-days.

      History of Seatbelts

      Seatbelts have a part of cars from as early as the 1900s with their first patent being file in 1885.

      But back then, cars use to have lap belts for all passengers.

      In 1946, these lap belts were made retractable for ease of use, but customers did not find seatbelts very appealing and either want to buy cars without seatbelts or had them remove from the car they purchase.

      Seatbelts were not a standard safety feature back then but were rather offer as additional equipment. 

      In 1955, two Americans design the first iteration of three-point seatbelts and later in 1959, an inverter name as Nils Bohlin improve this design and came up with the three-point seatbelts we see in our cars today.

      Nils Bohlin was also the chief design engineer at Volvo.

      And this design by Nils Bohlin and Volvo was patent, the carmaker decide to leave the patent open so other brands could also use it and improve the safety of occupants on board. 

      The first car to be fit with a three-point seatbelt was a Volvo PV 544 in the year 1959 and the first car to offer three-point seat belts as standard also came from Volvo the same year, call as the Volvo 122.

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      After the implementation of three-point seatbelts in Volvo cars, other carmakers start offering three-point seatbelts with their models. 

      Standardisation of Seatbelts

      As seatbelts in their early years were not part of a car’s standard equipment and were sold as an option.

      But that’s not true today.

      After Volvo made seatbelts a standard safety feature in their cars, other carmakers in America and European countries follow suit.

      By 1968, America made seatbelts for all cars standard, and in European countries, this was done in 1971.

      So, India made seatbelts standard pretty late.

      Indian government made seatbelts standard in 1994, but this was only for the front passengers.

      The rule for making cars equip with seatbelts for rear passengers came just over two decades ago, in 2002.

      But now, all models from all car manufacturers in India come with seatbelts for all passengers as standard.

      Some cars have three-point seatbelts for all passengers and some have a lap belt for the rear middle passenger.

      So, the latter will become non-existent soon, as the Indian government has plans to make three-point seatbelts a standard safety feature in all cars.

      When Wearing Seatbelt Becomes Mandatory?

      Having a seatbelt in a car is not enough.

      To save one’s life in case of an accident, one has to wear that seatbelt while driving or even while sitting comfortably in the passenger seat.

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      But convincing people to wear seatbelts was even harder than making them standard, and some people still don’t prefer to wear them.

      In the early days, when cars were equip with lap belts, most people use to find them uncomfortable and refuse to put them on, and even after the introduction of three-point seatbelts, making people wear them was still not easy.

      But now people were not wearing seatbelts, and more and more cars were starting to come onto roads, accidents became more frequent and fatalities increase.

      To prevent more people from getting injure, laws needed to be introduce.

      The first country to make wearing seatbelts mandatory by law was Australia in its state of Victoria in 1970.

      After Australia, America made wearing seatbelts mandatory by 1980 and soon after, most of the countries in the world joined the list.

      While in India this law came into force in 2005 and even after its implementation, most people still don’t wear seatbelts. 

      Indian Government Role on Seatbelts

      Since people in India don’t prefer to wear seatbelts, the rate of fatality in accidents increase.

      One such accident happen in September 2023 which led to the demise of Cyrus Mistry, who was the Chairman of Tata Group.

      This accident made the government make some amendments.

      Apart from making plans to make three-point seatbelts mandatory for all passengers, the Indian government took other measures to ensure the safety of passengers.

      One of these measures was to make stricter laws against not wearing seatbelts for all passengers.

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      Also the government also ask e-commerce websites like Amazon and Flipkart to stop selling seatbelt clips which can be use to stop the seatbelt reminder function and has also made seatbelt reminders for all seats a mandatory safety feature, which a lot of carmakers have already start implementing.

      This one feature encourages the driver and passengers to put on their seatbelts which helps keep them safe.

      Government has start taking initiatives, the public still needs to understand the importance of wearing a seatbelt.

      In a recent report from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), out of 55,628 people who were not wearing seatbelts and were involve in accidents in 2021, 16,397 people lost their lives, both drivers and passengers and the rest suffer injuries.

      This accounts for almost a 30% fatality rate for not wearing a seatbelt.

      So the government and carmakers are doing their part for ensuring passengers’ safety, we have to take responsibility to follow the laws and make use of the safety equipment that’s provide. 

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