Roadside Chat - Seat belts, keeping it together since 1959

9-29 seat beltsIf you’ve ever felt the tug of a seat belt in a crash or sudden stop, you may owe your life to a Swedish engineer. In 1959, Nils Bohlin invented the three-point seat belt that is still in use today and has saved more than a million lives.

The continuous belt that Bohlin invented for automaker Volvo had one section running diagonally across the body and another section across the lap. This design revolutionized automobile safety. Volvo realized the value of this innovation, but also the impact it could have, so it allowed the technology to transfer to other automakers for free.

Nils Bohlin
Swedish Engineer Nils Bohlin and his invention.


Are you wondering if you’re wearing your seat belt correctly? Here are some tips.

  • The shoulder belt should sit away from your neck (but not off your shoulder) and across your chest (between your breasts).
  • The lap belt should sit below your belly to fit snugly across your hips and pelvic bone.
  • Make sure to remove any slack from your seat belt
  • Never place the shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back.
  • Never place the lap belt over or on top of your belly.

Decades of research prove that seat belt use saves lives, But there’s still a problem. According to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and supported by Iowa-specific data, about 50 percent of people killed in crashes every year aren’t using them.

Please don’t become a statistic, buckle up and make it to your destination safely.  

For our history buffs, here’s a rundown of the origins of this live-saving device -,as%20they%20rode%20in%20taxis.

So far this year in Iowa, 275 people have been killed in traffic crashes. That’s an increase of four since last Friday. In Iowa in 2022, there were 338 traffic-related deaths. To see statistics published daily by the Office of Driver Services, go to the daily fatality report at


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