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Seatbelts: How these evolved and why it is important

The importance of seatbelts can never be talked about enough. Here’s how car seatbelts evolved and why you should strap in as soon as you get into your vehicle.

Seatbelts: How these evolved and why it is important
The traffic police have been directed to take action against the drivers not wearing seat belts, the official said.

In recent times, vehicle safety has been a rising concern and with independent bodies like NCAP testing vehicles rigorously, every aspect of a vehicle is taken into consideration such as bumpers, body structures, and passive safety equipment. Carmakers are using the help of technology to make cars safer by the day, however, some safety features have always existed and have proven time and again how a simple restraint can save lives.

In case you’re wondering, why we are speaking about seatbelts, which have been around since the 19th century. Seatbelts were invented by an English Engineer named George Cayley to be used on his glider, however, this was a simple device that strapped his thighs down to keep him in place. The real breakthrough came in 1946 when Hunter Shelden invented retractable seatbelts.

Over the years, many carmakers such as Ford, Nash, and others made seatbelts a standard feature and some made it an optional paid accessory as consumers were unwilling to buy cars with seatbelts as standard equipment.

The biggest breakthrough that came was in the 1950s when Bengt Odelgard and Per-Olof Weman, two Vattenfall safety engineers started working on a seatbelt design and presented that to Volvo, which set the standard for seat belts in Swedish cars. The rest, as we know is history.

Now, what we need to understand is the working principle of a seatbelt. The three-point seatbelt we see in modern cars spreads out the energy evenly over the chest, pelvis, and shoulders, restraining you to a point where the occupant is safe. Keeping this in mind, occupants in a car seated in any row undergo a certain amount of impact, hence wearing a seatbelt is important.

In a moving vehicle, the car and the passengers are travelling at the same speed and in the event of a collision, the car stops, but the passenger continues to move at the same speed, and injuries can be caused by the vehicle’s dash, seat, and other objects. A seatbelt applies an opposing force to the passenger or driver to keep them from rolling out or coming in contact with other objects.

Coming to India itself, when the government made seatbelts mandatory a few years ago, it wasn’t readily accepted, however, over the years awareness around safety and the importance of a seatbelt grew, thus making it acceptable. Sadly, however, it failed to educate a majority of people who think not wearing a seatbelt in the rear seats is okay, as it does not pose as much risk as compared to the occupants in the front of the car. When a car crashes, everyone, no matter which row one is seated in, is at risk.

The Indian government making seatbelts mandatory for passengers seated in the second and third rows of a vehicle only makes sense, and in our opinion, should have been made mandatory along with the rule for driver and passenger came into effect. For many, this is a welcome ruling, as they understand the protection it offers, while some are yet to take in the importance.

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