Seatbelts - A Potted History.

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1930s
Several physicians in the U.S. put lap belts in their own cars and urge manufacturers to fit them in all new cars.

1954
The Sports Car Club of America requires lap belts for competing drivers.

1955
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) appoints a Motor Vehicle Seatbelt Committee

1956
Volvo markets a 2-point cross-chest diagonal belt as an accessory.
Ford and Chrysler offer lap belts in front as an option on some models.
Ford begins a 2-year safety-based ad campaign, focusing heavily on seatbelts.

1957
Volvo provides anchors for 2-point diagonal belts in the front.

1958
Nils Bohlin, a design engineer with Volvo in Sweden, patents the "Basics of Proper Restraint Systems for Car Occupants" better known as a three-point safety belt. The device comprises two straps, a lap strap and shoulder strap.
Volvo provides anchors for 2-point diagonal belts in the rear.

1959
Volvo introduces 3-point belt in front as standard in Sweden.

1961
SAE issues standard for U.S. seat belts (J4).
Standards Association of Australia issues standard for "safety belts and harness assemblies".

1962
U.S. manufacturers provide seat belt anchors in front outboard as standard.

1963
Volvo introduces 3-point belt in front as standard in the U.S.
SAE issues revised standard (J4a).

1964
Most U.S. manufactures provide lap belts in front outboard seat positions.
Victoria and South Australia require seat belt anchors in front outboard positions in new cars (either 2- or 3-point permitted).

1965
U.S. Commerce Dept. issues first seat belt standard (adopted SAE standard).
SAE issues revised standard (J4c).
Some U.S. manufacturers provide automatic locking retractors (ALRs) in front seat belts.

1966
Swedish regulations prohibit 2-point cross-chest diagonal belt at seats next to a door, and Y-type of 3-point belt altogether.
U.S. Commerce Dept. issues revised seat belt standard (SAE j4c).
The Sports Car Club of America requires competing drivers to wear a shoulder harness as well as a lap belt (possibly 1967, according to some sources).

1967
Society of Automotive Engineers study at UCLA leads to calls for two-point seat belts, highback seats and other occupant protection strategies for school buses.
Volvo introduces 3-point belt in rear as standard in certain markets.
Great Britain requires 3-points in front outboard positions.
Australian standard for belt anchorages issued.
South Australia requires seat belts in front outboard positions.

1968
Volvo provides emergency locking retractors (ELRs) as standard in front, in Sweden.
Great Britain requires retrofit of 3-point belts in front in MY 65 and newer cars.
3 point harness is now legislation in the US.

1969
Sweden requires 3-point belts of approved type in front seats.
Volvo provides 3-point belt in rear as standard in all markets.
Mercedes-Benz adds 3-point belt in rear outboard seats as standard in all markets.
Japan requires seat belts, front and rear.
Australia requires 3-point belts in front outboard seats for all cars registered since 1965.

1970
Sweden requires belts in rear (diagonal and static allowed; lap-only not approved).
Victoria, Australia requires 3-point belts, front and rear and mandates use, front and rear.

1971
Volvo provides ELRs as standard in rear in all markets.
NHTSA amends FMVSS 208 to require passive restraints in front, to be effective 1973.
New South Wales requires use of seat belts.

1972
Volvo introduces adjustable B-post anchor point (not standard) to permit better fitting of shoulder portion of front lap/shoulder belts
Last Australian state law requiring belt use, front and rear, goes into effect January 1st.
New Zealand requires belt use, front and rear.
W. Germany requires 3-point belts, front and rear.
NHTSA requires anchorages for (detachable) shoulder straps for rear outboard.
VW displays 3-point belt system with webbing pre-tensioner.

1973
Mercedes-Benz provides ELR on 3-point belts in large (S-class) cars.

1974
Mercedes-Benz provides ELR on 3-point belts in midsize (300 Series) cars.
Sweden requires ELR on belts in front seats.
NHTSA requires 3-point belts (i.e., non-detachable shoulder straps) in front outboard positions.
U.S. cars provide "vehicle-sensitive" ELRs in front outboard shoulder belts (lap belt portion has ALR).

1975
Sweden requires 3-point, ELR belts in rear; mandates front use by persons 15 and older.
(In Sweden the effect of the past couple of years requirements is to half the number of serious injuries from accidents.)

1979
France mandates seat belts in rear: either 3 lap belts or 3-points at outboard positions and lap belt at centre (most manufacturers choose latter option).
New Zealand requires 3-point belts in front and rear outboard positions.

1980
Mercedes-Benz provides driver side airbag and knee bolster, and pre-tensioner an all 3-point belts.

1981
NHTSA rescinds requirements for eventual installation of passive restraint systems.

1983
Saab introduces 3-point in rear in all models sold in the U.S. (had provided for years in Scandinavia and Europe).

1984
Austria makes belt use mandatory in rear for cars with vehicle approval after January 1984 (front seat use mandatory since July 1976).
W. Germany makes rear seat belt use mandatory in cars manufactured since May 1979 (mandatory use in front since January 1976).
Seven of Canada's 10 provinces by this time require occupants of moving vehicles to use whatever set belt system is available to them.

1985
Nova Scotia makes belt use mandatory in front and rear.
Norway makes rear seat belt use mandatory in vehicles registered after January 1984 (front seat use mandatory since September 1975).
New York makes belt use mandatory in front and rear (in rear for persons 10 years or older).
Mercedes-Benz introduces driver-side air-bag with knee bolster (in addition to pre-tensioned 3-point belts) in the U.S. market.

1995
Great Britain requires seat belts on mini buses used in school transportation.

1996
Economic Commission of Europe approves amendments to three directives relating to: [1] seat belts, [2] seat belt anchorages, and [3] seat strength for Minibuses and Medium and Large Coaches. Requires 3-point seat belts in all seating positions on minibuses (vehicles of less than 3.5 tonnes) and at least 2- point belts.

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