Since the creation of the first automobile, the world has strived to improve auto safety in many innovative ways. Yet despite the abundance of safety hardware inside today’s cars, trucks and motorcycles, millions of Americans are injured in motor vehicle crashes each year and tens of thousands more are killed.
Many people believe that the driver-less car era — the time when automobiles operate autonomously — can’t come soon enough. And while we are not quite there yet, there’s no question that cars are becoming smarter and safer due to developing technologies.
Consider the following significant technological advances that have promoted automotive safety:
- Windshield wiper — First invented by Mary Anderson in 1903, the windshield wiper is an invaluable piece of automotive equipment. In fact, before its existence, driving in the rain was considered perilous and practically impossible.
- Seatbelt — Seatbelts date back to the early 19th century. Today, safety belts are woven from a variety of materials and are designed to save lives in automotive accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, safety belts reduce serious injuries and death in auto accidents by approximately 50 percent.
- Airbag — Located in the rear, front and side of a motor vehicle, airbags instantaneously inflate in the event of an auto collision. Airbag-like devices were first being used as early as 1941, and today, modern airbags are mandatory in all cars.
- Black box — Black boxes, also known as event data recorders or EDRs, have long been used in airplanes. Recently, EDRs were made available in cars, and as of September 1, 2014, they will become mandatory in all new cars sold in the United States. These devices do not increase the safety of the vehicle itself, but instead, provide data about the moments leading up to a crash — information such as the driver’s speed, steering, brake usage and whether he or she was wearing a seatbelt. Black box data will prove particularly useful when determining fault for an accident.
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