Volvo Trucks has long been the industry leader in the field of passive safety – technology that helps protect those involved in a collision.
This year marks 50 years since Volvo first introduced the three-point safety belt,an invention that has saved more lives in traffic than any other technical feature.
“Following its invention, Volvo immediately gave free use of its patent to all manufacturers and today the safety belt is a natural feature in virtually all trucks and cars. That is why we can say that there is a bit of Volvo in every vehicle on the road – irrespective of make and model,” Volvo Trucks’ traffic and product safety director, Carl Johan Almqvist told Tachoblog.
However, although the three-point belt has been around for half a century, its use is still worryingly low among truck drivers in some countries. For example, on Swedish roads, only four out of ten truck drivers use the belt, while France, owing to tough legislation, has recently boosted safety belt use to 80 per cent.
The consequences of not using the belt are well documented in Volvo Trucks’ own accident research. For example, of 15 truck driver fatalities on Swedish roads over the past three years, only one was wearing a safety belt.
“The human being does not have a built-in speedometer, so we do not perceive speed as dangerous, especially not when we sit high up in a large vehicle,” explained Carl-Johan Almqvist. “On a global perspective, a large number of drivers die every year while not wearing a safety belt and their lives might have been saved by the truck’s most obvious safety feature. This is something we must rectify in a challenge that is as big as the development of new technologies for accident avoidance.”
He concluded, “We have safety belt reminders in our trucks, but ultimately it is the drivers themselves who must realise the risks they are taking when they drive without wearing their safety belt. Virtually our entire systematic safety approach is by-passed if the belt is not given the chance to hold the seat occupant securely in place during an accident. This applies equally if the driver is thrown around inside the cab or is thrown out of the cab if the truck rolls over.”
NOTE : The world’s first vehicle with a three-point safety belt fitted as standard was a Volvo PV544 – delivered in Karlstad, Sweden on August 13th 1959.