Those sexy Swedish tanks celebrate 50-years of buckling up

Published on September 4th, 2009

‘Grab, stretch and click’ is something everybody should do before the get-go in any vehicle but sadly, even after 50 years, the ignorant ones among us have yet to learn the importance of buckling up.

Fittingly, the automotive world’s most significant safety device had to be invented by Volvo, a brand synonymous with automotive safety innovations. Although many other variations of the safety-belt had been conjured up before it, the three-point safety-belt that has become the par for course of safety standards was first strapped on by Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin back in 1959.

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To date, with some help from its friends that we have come to know as airbags, belt pre-tensioners and force limiter, the three-point safety-belt has saved well over a million lives on the road worldwide.

Furthermore, in a move that would be downright impossible to fathom in today’s dog eat dog world of car making, Volvo Cars shared its patent for the three-point seat-belt with all other car manufacturers.

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“The three-point safety belt was not the first safety innovation from Volvo, but it certainly has proved to be the most significant,” said newly appointed Volvo Car Malaysia President, Goran Larsson.

“That is precisely the reason you find a little bit of Volvo in every vehicle plying the roads off today,” Larsson enthusiastically added.

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Taking into account that the safety-belt forms the cornerstone of all automotive safety innovations, it’s mind-boggling that motorists still find it hard to just buckle up before heading off.

Lets have a gander at some plausible scenarios just so the cardinality of a safety-belt can bitch slap us in the face.

Say for instance we lose control of the vehicle due to a wet patch on the road, the stability controls and whats not work primarily by distributing and cutting power to each wheel to align the vehicle according to the directional input of the steering wheel. Now wouldn’t it be a pinch too hard to dial-in the correct steering input if you’re being thrown about like tossed salad? Now how’s the cheeks from that slap in the face?

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The fact of the matter is that most of the other safety systems, in some way or another, work around the safety-belt and if you don’t buckle up you’ve already drastically slashed your odds in the event your vehicle goes crash-bang-boom.

For speed’s sake people, it’s not like strapping the thing in takes five minutes. Fact is it shouldn’t even take five seconds. Yet, the paramount of a safety belt hasn’t sunk in for a fair contingent of road users till this day.

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Safety is second nature to the Swedish car maker and with such a head start on the automotive safety rat race, the three-point safety-belt sits pretty atop a winding list of Volvo safety innovations that now come retrofitted and without a box to tick on the order list.

The usage of multiple grades of steel throughout a vehicle, intelligent airbags, electronic stability systems, Roll Stability Control (RSC), Driver Alert, Blind Spot Identification System, Lane Departure, Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning and Automatic Braking are just some of the safety innovations that Volvo have perfected in their vehicles.

Child booster

“From Bohlin’s invention 50 years ago to City Safety in our new Volvo XC60 this year, Volvo is constantly innovating new ways to keep passengers safe. These safety features, and ones we will continue to introduce, are inline with our commitment that by the year 2020, no one will be killed or suffer serious injuries in a new Volvo,” explained Larsson.

Larsson, a Volvo blueblood, is reveling in his new role as the President of Volvo Car Malaysia. The down-to-earth Swede also wears the cap of President of the Asia Region. Having taken over from the affable Robert Norrman in July this year, Larsson is looking forward to raising Volvo’s game in this nook of the world.

Having began his career with the company back in 1984, the feathers in Larsson’s cap include selling the Volvo brand in countries that range from Russia and Saudi Arabia to Sri Lanka and Pakistan as well as setting up, organizing and running business operations in countries that include Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.

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Prior to moving here, he was helming the ship of Volvo Cars Taiwan for three years. The married father of two has also leading the Regional Office for Volvo Car Turkey and Istanbul.

In conjunction with the three-point safety-belt’s golden jubilee, Volvo Car Malaysia will be launching a safety campaign for pre-school children. Focussed on the Klang Valley vicinity, the campaign will set out with the target to create awareness and to instil the dos and don’ts of vehicle safety in pre-schoolers.

Also present at the event was Datuk Suret Singh, the Director General of the Road Safety Department as well as Carl Rajendram, the Chief Executive Officer of Insurance Services Malaysia, to give a much needed nudge on the safety rock.

text & pix: Dinesh Appavu

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