A Brief History of One of the Most Important Automotive Safety Systems

Once upon a time, very few Americans wore seatbelts, and many more died in accidents every year. While the usage of seatbelts cannot alone take credit for consistently declining automotive fatality rates, these ubiquitous accessories remain some of the most effective and important of all.

In fact, experts estimate that more than 4,000 annual traffic fatalities could be avoided if 90 percent of all Americans would buckle their own belts for every trip. It is always wise to buckle up in case you’re in an accident, no matter the distance to be traveled or the destination.

A Proven Way to Stay Safer When the Unexpected Happens

Early automobiles did not even have seat belts, although it did not take long for manufacturers to start including such devices. By the 1950s, the era when personal vehicle ownership really started to take off in the United States, just about every popular model of car could be obtained with seat belts at least in optional form.

Within a decade, there had been a nationwide move toward making usage of seat belts mandatory, although different states proceeded according to their own particular schedules. As evidence began to pile up and establish the safety benefits of seatbelts, voluntary usage started to climb as well.

Even so, a few myths persisted, as with the idea that it was normally safer to go without a belt to be thrown clear of the wreck in the event of an accident. Over time, misconceptions like that one and the feeling that a belt could do additional harm to the body of an accident victim started to become a lot less common.

One of the Most Important Habits of All

Today, states have laws mandating the usage of seatbelts, with fines and other penalties accruing not just to those who fail to comply, but also frequently to drivers who agree to transport them. While seatbelts can sometimes seem inconvenient or even a bit uncomfortable, most now recognize how important they can be in the event of an accident. As a result, fewer and fewer Americans refuse to buckle up, and that saves many lives every year.