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Looking Back on Volvo’s Safety Innovation

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Volvo

Looking Back on Volvo’s Safety Innovation

Glady Reign
April 16, 2007

Today, one of the most popular car brands when safety is concerned is Volvo. The Swedish car manufacturer currently owned by the Ford Motor Company has always been an innovator when it comes to car safety features.

Throughout its 80-year history, the company has given the auto industry many safety innovations which have been proven time and time again to have saved lives of people involved in traffic accidents. One of the most innovative safety technology ever developed by Ford did not happen recently. In fact, one of the most basic child-in-car safety devices is derived from Volvo’s safety developments made back in the 1960’s.

During that decade, safety experts from Volvo reported that small children should face the rear of the vehicle when on board a vehicle. This is supported by the findings of independent traffic safety researchers. These safety experts arrived at the said findings after performing collision tests. The tests conducted show that small children have more chances of surviving car crashes when they are facing the rear of the vehicle.

Based on the findings, Professor Bertil Aldman designed the first rear facing child seat when he was working as a laboratory technician. The said child seat was designed to fit most cars produced during that era. Then, Volvo took interest in the design of the child seat and started on developing a new one while cooperating with Professor Aldman.

The car manufacturer completed the development of the new child seat and was able to integrate it to their vehicles which were released during the spring of 1967. During that time, even Volvo alternators and other auto parts only placed lower than safety in Volvo’s priority list of features for vehicles.

Volvo’s version of the rear facing seat is an ingenious and relatively easy solution. The company allows the front passenger seat to be unscrewed and then reversed so that it is now facing the rear of the car. The seat’s backrest was designed to absorb energy from front end crashes and to distribute the force uniformly to protect the child occupant. Aside from that, a special backrest is supplied to fit a small child’s frame. The special backrest is equipped with straps and safety harnesses to keep the child securely in place in the event of a collision.

This innovation is seen as one of the most notable safety feature developed by Volvo given that it was developed in the 1960’s.

The reversible seat was initially projected for the user of small children and even infants. But through the years, the seat was recommended even for grown-ups. In that regards, a head restraint was recommended because of the possible damaged that a broken windshield can cause to a grown up sitting on the passenger set facing the rear of the vehicle.

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