May 13, 1968


JAMA. 1968;204(7):625-626. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140200065023

New American automobiles are now equipped with shoulder belts as well as seat belts. Unfortunately, many drivers and passengers will not use this new life-saving equipment, just as thousands never used the seat belt alone. But the general public probably would use the combination safety belt if they really were convinced that it increases chances of surviving and of sustaining fewer or less severe injuries in automobile crashes.

Across-the-chest harnesses have been the source of some controversy because convincing evidence of their added efficacy, compared with ordinary lap belts, has been lacking. Now, however, a remarkable study from Sweden1 seems to offer proof that the three-point harness does prevent injury and does save lives.

Bohlin reports statistics for a large series of accidents involving two models of one automobile. The manufacturer has routinely installed combination seat belts in all cars built since 1959. Since the manufacturer guarantees every car for