Whether you’re a veteran or new driver, you’ve probably heard the phrase “click it or ticket” a few times in your life. That phrase was created to convey the importance of wearing your seat belt so you’re in accordance with the law. While most people wear their seat belts today without a second thought, the history of seat belts comes with its fair share of controversy. Learn how seat belts became a staple in all vehicles with this seat belt timeline, and how seat belts can save you from more than just a ticket.

The Invention of Seat Belts

Seat belts were originally invented for glider planes, not cars, by a British engineer in the late 1800s named George Cayley. The first car seat belt was patented in 1885 by Edward J. Claghorn, an American living in New York who noticed the need for safety features in taxis. Throughout the rest of the 19th century, seat belts slowly increased in popularity among a small portion of drivers.

It wasn’t until the late 1950s that car manufacturers started adding seat belts to most of their passenger cars. In 1968, all cars made in the U.S. needed seat belts in their front seats. Three-point integration seat belts, the most current form of seat belt, became the standard in 1973. These seat belts lock up during times of rapid deceleration to manage the forces around your body.

Seat Belt Controversy

While modern Americans are used to mandatory seat belt laws, the original seat belt mandates caused some controversy amongst Americans. When seat belts laws were first introduced, some Americans saw them as an attack on personal freedom. However, our attitudes toward seat belts have shifted tremendously, as evidenced by today’s rate of seat belt use compared to a few decades ago. In the early 1980s, it’s estimated that only 14% of drivers used their seat belts, while 80-90% of drivers buckle up today.

The History of The Seat Belt

The Importance of Seat Belts

The importance of using your seat belt when it comes to personal safety cannot be understated. Seat belts are one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce crash-related injuries and deaths. If you’re riding or driving in the front seat of a vehicle, using a seat belt reduces your risk of death by 45% in a car and 60% in a SUV, truck, or van. In addition, roughly 50% of victims who die in car accidents aren’t wearing a seat belt.

How Seat Belts Work

Seat belts primarily prevent ejection from your vehicle and collision with your vehicle’s dashboard or window. If your vehicle collides with an object or car, your seat belt holds you in place so you don’t continue moving at the same pre-collision speed and get thrown from your seat. By keeping you secured in your seat, your car absorbs most of the energy from the crash while you slow down with your vehicle. Seat belts are also designed to spread the shock of the crash across the strongest parts of your body, such as your chest and hips.

Seat Belt Laws

Apart from New Hampshire, every state has primary or secondary seat belt laws. If your state has primary seat belt laws, law enforcement officers are allowed to pull you over and ticket you solely for forgetting to wear your seat belt. Obeying these laws can help prevent tickets and strikes on your driving record while protecting you and your vehicle. In addition to buckling up, it’s equally important to stay covered with a quality insurance policy. Get a car insurance quote from The General in under two minutes or read more on our insurance blog.