WASHINGTON - Volvo Cars has been invited to donate its historic three-point safety belt to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

The museum accepted the gift at a ceremony July 14.

The safety belt is part of a larger collection from eight different donors. Each article represents a significant advance in 75 years of safety-enhancement work in the car industry.

Volvo created automotive history when the first car fitted as standard with three-point safety belts was delivered on August 13, 1959. Since then, Nils Bohlin's invention has been fitted to millions of cars the world over. The seat belt is now on display at one of the world's most prestigious and largest museums, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

The three-point belt still plays a vital role in helping to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in road traffic.

Volvo's participation in the museum collection all began with a phone call over two years ago.

"The three-point safety belt turned 50 and fortunately there were already plans under way to show a collection of innovations relating to the automobile's history," said Dan Johnston, product communications manager with the corporate communications department at Volvo Cars of North America.

Acceptance of new items for the museum's collection is preceded by a long and complex process. Each object's authenticity is thoroughly verified. The belt donated is an original fitting from a 1961 Volvo PV 544, and it is on display with the accompanying original seat.