Crash Test Dummy - History

History

On August 31, 1869, Mary Ward became the first recorded victim of a steam-powered automobile accident; Karl Benz had not yet invented the gasoline-powered automobile (1886). Ward, of Parsonstown, Ireland, was thrown out of a motor vehicle and killed. Thirty years later, on September 13, 1899, Henry Bliss became North America's first motor vehicle fatality when hit while stepping off a New York City trolley. Since then, over 20 million people worldwide have died due to motor vehicle accidents.

The need for a means of analyzing and mitigating the effects of motor vehicle accidents on humans was felt soon after commercial production of automobiles began in the late 1890s, and by the 1930s, when the automobile became a common part of daily life and the number of motor vehicle deaths was rising. Death rates had surpassed 15.6 fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles and were continuing to climb.

In 1930, the interior of a car featured Dashboards of rigid metal, non-collapsible steering columns — and protruding knobs, buttons, and levers. Without seat belts, passengers in a frontal collision could be hurled against the interior of the automobile or through the windshield. The vehicle body itself was rigid, and impact forces were transmitted directly to the vehicle occupants. As late as the 1950s, car manufacturers were on public record as saying that vehicle accidents simply could not be made survivable because the forces in a crash were too great.

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