Ford’s Model T cars did not have seatbelts. Nor, for that matter, did his competitors in Chevy or GM. The Delahaye 135 convertible, built in the 1940s, could hurtle its passengers down the road at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour but in case of a sudden stop there would be no seatbelts protecting them. Doctors groups as early as the 30s began citing alarming statistics of automobile-drivers deaths, but it took a further two decades any serious steps would be taken about them.
On this day, June 27, in 1955, the first seatbelt law in the country went into effect in Illinois.
The first modern three-point seat belt — securing lap and shoulders — was designed by Swedish inventor Nils Bohlin. His device was for introduced by Volvo in 1959 and became a standard feature for all cars thereafter.