Evolution of road safety standards | Latest titles

As more cars made their first appearance on American roads in the early 1900s, the number of deaths and injuries due to road accidents exploded, especially compared to those resulting from railroad accidents. In 1915, for example, there were only 199 deaths among railway passengers compared to 6,600 among motorists and pedestrians. Ten years later, in 1925, there were 171 deaths on the railroads, but 21,900 for motorists and pedestrians.

As early as the 1920s, the National Safety Council tried to draw attention to dangers with accident statistics.

Keeping Americans safe on the road was quickly becoming a problem that needed solutions.

Some have come in the form of car or road design, shatterproof windshields for example. Others have addressed driver behavior, from speeding to drinking and driving.

There was, however, an inconsistency in the implementation of the improvements. The first seat belt patent was granted in 1885, but it took many years before they were used regularly by drivers and passengers.

The Patel firm compiled a list of safety steps he gathered from historical records, documents from government agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Smithsonian Institute, and nonprofits such as the American Automobile Association.

Here’s a look at some of the important innovations introduced over the years, from traffic lights to seat belts.


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