We recently came across an article in a magazine from 1974. In the run-up to the introduction of the seat belt obligation, many fables were circulating about the inconveniences of wearing a seat belt. Various cars were not equipped with it at all or only knew this feature as a lap belt. The three-point belt gained ground at the time. But doubt still prevailed. The role belt and the publication of various campaigns and investigations ultimately led to definitive acceptance.
We once mention a number of current objections among motorists to wearing the seat belt. For example, in the event of an accident the motorist would be clamped in the car. Certainly in the event of a fire that would be life-threatening. Seatbelts were also a danger because they would prevent people from being thrown out of the car in the event of an accident and would also cause injuries. Facts such as superfluity at low speeds, facilitating freedom of movement and the lack of usefulness in side collisions were also mentioned.
Uncomfortability seatbelt most striking reason
But the fact that belts were labeled as uncomfortable was perhaps the most striking and the main reason for not wearing the belt. In the meantime, the preventive and injury-limiting character - which meant that people could get out of the car faster and / or consciously - was underexposed. The magazine in question refuted all objections living in the country with great enthusiasm. The driver had to get used to the belt. He or she had a natural antipathy against being strapped.
Disadvantages wearing belt removed
In the relevant article and other documents, however, it was strongly emphasized that many drawbacks of the belt were eliminated if the safety device was correctly adjusted and used properly. It also became increasingly clear in those years that wearing seat belts increasingly led to less serious injuries and a much greater chance of survival. Studies in 1973, for example, showed that in frontal collisions, the number of injuries dropped by 40%, while a Swiss study found that 66% percent of road deaths would have lived if there had been a worn belt. Certainly the three-point belt - introduced by Volvo in 1959 - played an important role in this. In the Netherlands too, many studies were conducted into the effect of the safety belt. Veilig Verkeer Nederland also contributed to the awareness of the importance of wearing the seat belt.
Eventually the belt ended up in an atmosphere of acceptance and it was used more and more often. The modern three-point belt with automatic retractor - certainly when the obligation to wear became 1975 in June - was a clear plus in the degree of acceptance of this safety feature. The belt length no longer had to be adjusted manually, with normal movement there was full freedom of movement and the blocking system of the belt - for example with sudden braking - ensured additional safety. Incidentally, vehicles that were taken into use as a new car before 1971 - just like in 1975 - still do not need seat belts. Passenger cars built afterwards must be fitted with belts from 1975. And from 1 January 1990, both the front and the rear must be fitted with belts. From 1 April 1992 in the Netherlands is also compulsory for the rear seats, provided that seat belts are fitted. For Belgium, too, “every seat belt must be used.” In our country, there are exceptions for the disabled and - subject to conditions - taxi drivers with regard to the obligation to wear.
In any case, the safety belt is indispensable. Within the increasing safety sentiment of today, it is hard to imagine that the safety aspect of the belt was seriously questioned.