All About Seat Belts

The Story Of Seat Belts

Statistics on the World Economic Forum website indicate that car seat belts have saved at least three million lives worldwide since their adoption. This is a staggering statistic and attests to the revolutionary impact this seemingly simple invention has had on the safety of our drives. Seat belts are the first line of defense against the tremendous forces generated during a vehicle crash - An unbelted passenger in a crash at 55 km/h would experience a force equivalent to falling three flights from a building. The now-ubiquitous seat belt has a long and interesting history, spanning more than a century before its present incarnation as the sleek device we are all familiar with.

Who Invented Seat Belts?

The first patent for a seat belt was granted to the American E J Claghorn, in 1885, for a safety belt to protect tourists in taxis. However, this bore little resemblance to the modern seat belt. The early iterations of vehicle seat belts were used only infrequently and were lap belts. They were designed to prevent the occupant from being thrown out of the car but did not protect his or her torso from being jerked forward. This feature was pioneered by Nils Ivar Bohlin, an engineer with Volvo, who developed the modern three-point seat belt in 1958.

Bohlin also conducted an exhaustive study of 37,511 front-seat occupants in cars, which found that no belted occupant was killed in accidents at speeds lower than 60 mph (96 km/h). 

Today, we’re all familiar with the retractable seat belt, but it took over a decade for it to become widespread in the industry. The design comprises a buckle on one side of the car seat, a retractor on the other, and the actual webbing made of polyester (1,100 decitex) that runs between the two in a Y-shape, slotting into the buckle with a latch plate.

Who Invented Seat Belts?

When Did Car Seat Belts Become Mandatory In Canada?

In Canada, seat belt laws are set by the provinces and territories. While seat belts are mandatory in all 13 provinces and territories, Ontario became the first to require all occupants of a car to wear seat belts in 1976. Further, child/booster seat requirements may apply to children based on their height, weight, or age.

There are exceptions that exempt drivers and passengers from wearing seat belts, such as in vehicles manufactured without seat belts (pre-1970s cars, for example). However, child/booster seat requirements are always applicable regardless of the make/model of the vehicle.

How Many Demerit Points Do You Get In Canada For Not Wearing A Seat belt?

All Canadian provinces and territories have demerit points and/or fines associated with seat belt violations. The table below summarises the demerit points related to non-compliance with seat belt regulations.

When And How Do You Replace A Car Seat Belt?

Car original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) typically specify that seat belts must be replaced if a car has been in a collision, or in case of any damage or fraying to the seat belt. Installing seat belts can be simple, but getting a qualified mechanic to do so is recommended, as they are vital pieces of safety equipment.

Seat belts are often specific to car makes and models, and sometimes might be specific to particular seat rows or even individual seats. Universal seat belts may not fit all cars, so it is recommended to check the product specifications for compatibility details.

John Framigllia
Technical Writer
Our technical writer is known for simplifying automotive parts and services. Intuitive with various vehicles and manufacturers, he knows how to simplify complicated problems.