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Car Safety Improvements: A Look at How Things Have Changed Over the Years

» Posted July 25, 2018Resources | Share This Post

Cars today are safer than they were in the past. This does not mean that individual vehicles can't have problems. In fact, cars are routinely released with serious defects and their owners end up having to pursue claims with the help of California lemon law attorneys in order to obtain appropriate legal remedies.

Still, despite isolated problems with vehicles, many advances in technology have helped to significantly reduce the likelihood of someone being hurt or killed in a collision. In fact, Drive Mag just recently provided a comprehensive summary of different advancements that have helped to make driving much safer than it was in the past.

How Cars Have Gotten Safer Over the Years

Drive Magazine traced the history of improvements to car safety over time. According to Drive Magazine, cars from the 1900s to 1940s were difficult to control, heavy, and provided little or no protection for occupants in case of a collision. 

Changes started to be made quickly, though. The first windshield wiper blades were patented in 1903, and the first rear-view mirrors were added to an Indianapolis 500 race car in 1911. The first crash test on a vehicle was run in 1934 by General Motors, and the Tucker Sedan in 1948 was the first vehicle that included a padded dashboard in case a collision happened.

The concept of a crumble zone was invested by an engineer with Mercedes in the early 1950's, and the first seat belt in American made cars also appeared around this time as well when Nash Motors included belts on popular Airflytes models.   Air bags were also developed in 1951, while motorcycle helmets came onto the scene in 1953 thanks to the efforts of a professor at University of Southern California who was responding to a rise in motorcycle fatalities.

In 1970, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was developed to begin regulating vehicle safety. Then, in 1974, a national maximum speed limit was established. The national maximum was originally set at 55 MPH, although today the rules have been relaxed and there are many highways with speeds well above 55 MPH.  Later that decade, in 1978, the first front-impact crash was conducted on a vehicle traveling at 35 MPH.

Although crash testing was done earlier, NHTSA did not introduce its 5-star rating system until 1993 to make it easier for motorists to understand how safe – or unsafe – a particular vehicle was. And side impact testing wasn't put into place as common practice until 1996, when NHTSA began incorporating performance in side impact crashes into it's rating system.

Subsequent advances included dual airbags, the mandated inclusion of electronic stability control (ESC) on all passenger cars and light-duty vehicles; tire pressure monitoring systems; rear-view cameras and more.

Unfortunately, while advancements have had a very positive impact on vehicles in general, some cars still cause serious problems for their owners due to defects. If your car has issues, you should reach out to California lemon law lawyers to determine if you have legal remedies available to you and to get help pursuing these remedies.


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