Be Thankful for Auto Safety

This is the time of year when everyone seems to be busy preparing for holiday celebrations. Thanksgiving Day is coming right up and soon we’ll be sitting around the dinner table with loved ones, enjoying great food, sharing memories, and reflecting on all those things that make us truly thankful. As you prepare for holiday travel, here is one more thing to be thankful for – auto safety.

Auto travel has become an established and commonplace part of our lives. While we do think about driving safely and keeping our vehicles well-maintained, most of us probably take for granted the amazing auto safety features that have been designed specifically for our protection. Through the years, automotive manufacturers have invested heavily in the development of innovative safety features, which have saved countless lives on the road.

While you are counting your blessings around the table this year, this post has some auto safety trivia you can share with friends and family. We should all be thankful for these innovations:

Safety Belts

seat belts

Safety belts were first introduced as standard  by the Swedish automobile manufacturer, Saab, in 1958. Earlier, in 1946, California neurologist, Dr. C. Hunter Sheiden  first conceived of the idea of seat belts. His concern arose greatly from the high number of head injuries he saw in emergency rooms. His research was published in a 1955 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). He proposed the retractable seat belt concept, as well as many other automotive safety measures. By 1968, the U. S. Code, Chapter 301, Motor Vehicle Safety Standard required that all vehicles, with the exception of buses, have seat belts installed in all designated seating positions.

Airbags

AirBags

American Industrial Engineer, John Hetrick was issued a United States patent in 1953 for the first of his airbag designs. His approach was to apply his experiences with compressed air from torpedoes during his service in the Navy to a device that would provide protection during automobile accidents. Although Hetrick worked with the major American automobile corporations at the time, the airbag concept’s first commercial use did not occur until 1971, when it was tested in a few Ford cars. By September 1, 1998, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 went into effect, and required that all cars and light trucks sold in the United States have air bags on both sides of the front seat.

Safety Glass Windows

windshield

The concept of shatter-resistant glass was discovered inadvertently in 1903 by the French chemist Edouard Benedictus. When he dropped a glass flask filled with a dried collodion film, he observed that the glass coated with the film cracked, but retained its shape. A few decades later this laminated glass began to be installed  in automobiles. In 1970, the U.S. government formed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Since that time, four Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for automotive glass have been enacted, greatly improving driver and passenger safety during collisions.

Happy Thanksgiving!!