Buckle Up

3/04/2009

Mary Ward had the dubious honour of being the first recorded victim of an accident involving an automobile, which took place in 1869 in Parsonstown, Ireland. Since then, though unfortunately many more people have lost their lives on the road, despite the vehicle manufacturing industry's best efforts to make cars safer.

 

Buckle upAmong the earliest vehicle safety innovations were the seat belt and the padded dashboard, which were the invention of a plastic surgeon and a doctor in 1930s America. In 1934 General Motors carried out the first ever barrier crash test to monitor the safety of its models, but Volvo made a great leap forward in 1944 when it introduced the first safety cage, although Mercedes Benz were quicker off the mark with the patent.

Saab incorporated aircraft safety thinking into automobiles in 1949 and came up with the Saab 92 - the first production Saab car with a safety cage. But it wasn't until 1958 that the UN established the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations - an international standards body that promoted automobile safety around the world. The result of this call for more research into safety features was the three-point seat belt pioneered by Volvo and it was also Volvo that developed the first rear-facing child seat in 1964 and introduced its own booster seat in 1978.

In 1979, crash-testing began, with the results made public to encourage manufacturers to improve the safety of their vehicles. Five years later, New York State passed the first US law requiring seat belt use in passenger cars and this has now been adopted internationally, as has the requirement for a third brake light. Since then, NCAP safety ratings have been introduced and advances in vehicle safety are being made all the time, to ensure that using the road is as safe as it can be.


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