- September 9, 2013
We all wear them, right? The seatbelt—that webbed material composed of cotton and nylon woven together for strength. When we hear that satisfying “click” of the 3-point latch, we feel safer and a little more secure to venture out on the road. But, we haven’t always been so fortunate to have these safety restraints.
I grew up in the 60′s, just outside of Seattle, when seatbelt laws and regulations were still in the far off future. With four kids, there was plenty of backseat bickering and a few pinches and jabs. One of my favorite places to ride was in the back of my parent’s old station wagon. With the flat cargo space, we would lay down, holding knees to chest and become human bowling balls as my Dad careened around the corners. In my teenage years, Dad’s midlife crisis consisted of purchasing a Triumph GT6+. If we didn’t claim “shotgun” in time, you got to hunker down into the back trunk/hatch (I think I remember being able to see out?), in the fetal position, rolling and bumping down the freeway.
The first US patent for the seatbelt was applied for by Edward J Claghorn in 1885. Seatbelts were described in the patent as, “Designed to be applied to the person, and provided with hooks and other attachments for securing the person to a fixed object.” The seatbelt, however, didn’t necessarily evolve alongside the automobile. It wasn’t until 1964 that most US manufacturers provided lap belts for the front seats. And, it wasn’t until 1989 that rear seatbelts were required to be fitted in new cars.