Vintage Car Safety Film: Anatomy of an Accident (1960s)
Automobile safety is the study and practice of vehicle design, construction, and equipment to minimize the occurrence and consequences of automobile accidents. (Road traffic safety more broadly includes roadway design. One of the first formal academic studies into improving car safety was by Cornell Aeronautical Labs of Buffalo, New York. The main conclusion of their extensive report is the crucial importance of seat belts and padded dashboards.
Improvements in roadway and automobile designs have steadily reduced injury and death rates in all first world countries. Nevertheless, auto collisions are the leading cause of injury-related deaths, an estimated total of 1.2 million in 2004, or 25% of the total from all causes. Risk compensation limits the improvement that can be made, often leading to reduced safety where one might expect the opposite.
When pregnant, women should continue to use seatbelts and airbags properly. A University of Michigan study found that “unrestrained or improperly restrained pregnant women are 5.7 times more likely to have an adverse fetal outcome than properly restrained pregnant women”. If seatbelts are not long enough, extensions are available from the car manufacturer or an aftermarket supplier.
Children present significant challenges in engineering and producing safe vehicles, because most children are significantly smaller and lighter than most adults. Safety devices and systems designed and optimised to protect adults — particularly calibration-sensitive devices like airbags and active seat belts — can be ineffective or hazardous to children. In recognition of this, many medical professionals and jurisdictions recommend or require that children under a particular age, height, and/or weight ride in a child seat and/or in the back seat, as applicable. In Sweden, for instance, a child or an adult shorter than 140 cm is legally forbidden to ride in a place with an active airbag in front of it.
Child safety locks and driver-controlled power window lockout controls prevent children from opening doors and windows from inside the vehicle.
Infants left in cars
Very young children can perish from heat or cold if left unattended in a parked car, whether deliberately or through absentmindedness. In 2004 the U.S. NHTSA estimated 25 fatalities per year among children left in hot cars.
In the UK, a full driving licence can be had at age 17, and most areas in the United States will issue a full driver’s license at the age of 16, and all within a range between 14 and 18. In addition to being relatively inexperienced, teen drivers are also cognitively immature, compared to other drivers. This combination leads to a relatively high crash rate among this demographic.
In some areas, new drivers’ vehicles must bear a warning sign to alert other drivers that the vehicle is being driven by an inexperienced and learning driver, giving them opportunity to be more cautious and to encourage other drivers to give novices more leeway. In the US New Jersey has Kyleigh’s Law citing that teen drivers must have a decal on their vehicle. Commercial services also exist to that provide a notification phone number to report unsafe driving such as IsmyKidDrivingSafe.com and CarefulTeenDriver.com.
Some countries, such as Australia, the United States, Canada and New Zealand, have graduated levels of driver’s licence, with special rules. By 2010, all US states required a graduated driver’s licence for drivers under age 18. In Italy, the maximum speed and power of vehicles driven by new drivers is restricted. In Romania, the maximum speed of vehicles driven by new drivers (less than one year in experience) is 20 km/h lower than the national standard (except villages, towns and cities).
Insurance statistics in the United States indicate a 30% increase in the number of elderly killed, comparing 1975 to 2000. Several states require additional testing for elderly drivers. On a per-driver basis, the number of fatal and overall crashes decreases with age, with some exceptions for drivers over 75. The overall trend may be due to greater experience and avoiding driving in adverse conditions. However, on a per-miles-travelled basis, drivers younger than 25-30 and older than 65-70 have significantly higher accident rates. Survivability of crashes decreases monotonically with the age of the victim.
This vintage short flick holds theories that today can serve us all well. Concentration, Control & Courtesy are so important here in our very own El Paso. Today, as our town grows so fast we must be vigilant about driving and teaching our children the hazards of driving in such a growing city. This was a fresh of breath air short flick. Teach it to your kids… Regards Dr. Alex Jimenez
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