Automobile safety refers to all that is done in a bid to reduce the incidence and consequences of automobile accidents. It usually involves the study of automobile design, construction and regulations. Many fatalities and injuries that occur during accidents can be reduced if automobiles meet up to the safety standards required of them. The World Health Organisation records that 80% of cars sold in the world are not compliant with major safety standards.

The use of automobiles has been a fundamental invention. Without doubt, it is the commonest mode of transportation in the modern world. In urban areas, there is at least one car within every two homes. 

As much as the aesthetics and functionalities of automobiles have been improved over time, the safety of automobiles has equally evolved with time. This improvement has helped curb many accidents, and in instances where the accident could not have been avoided, they helped cushion the effect of the accident.

Evolution of Automobile Safety

  • Wiper Blades

Wiper Blades is also known as windshield wipers. They were invented in 1903 by Mary Anderson. Mary had a rather unpleasant experience of riding in a car in the middle of a winter storm without any means of clearing the windshield. The accumulated snow on the shield did not only distort her vision but that of the driver, who often had to stick his head out the window to have a glimpse of the road ahead. After months of brainstorming, Mary eventually came up with the idea that led to the invention of wiper blades. Although the wiper blades have evolved over the years, their function has remained the same – aiding the vision of a car’s operator and occupants in a visually distorted environment.

  • Rear View Mirrors

Although Ray Harroun – a motor racer, did some experimenting with the rearview mirror in 1911, it was Elmer Berger who invented the rearview mirror in 1921. Elmer nicknamed the mirror “cop spotter” as his inspiration was based on the need to spot if he was being followed by cops. Today, the importance of rearview mirrors cannot be over-emphasized as they are vital in helping car handlers have an excellent view of events behind them without turning their necks.

  • Turning Indicators

In 1907, Percy Douglas-Hamilton applied for a patent for a hand-shaped device that indicated the intended movement of vehicles.

In 1914, actress Florence Lawrence invented turning indicators. Then, a driver indicates the side of the road they are about to turn by pressing a button. The button raises a flag at the car’s rear bumper to indicate the direction the driver is moving. The button also lowers the flag after use. 

However, Buick, an American carmaker was the first person to make a car with flashing turn indicators in 1939.

  • Headrests 

Before headrests (or head restraints) were invented, vehicle occupants involved in accidents often suffered severely from whiplash. This reason was the motivation to invent headrest. The arrival of headrests drastically reduced the impact of whiplash on accident victims. Benjamin Katz in 1921, was granted the patent for automobile head restraints. In the 1960s, headrests started to become optional. However, from January 1969, they became mandatory for all cars.

  • Laminated Windscreen

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, windscreens were made of tempered glass. This glass easily got shattered during accidents and can injure the occupants of the vehicle. In 1903, Edouard Benedictus, a French chemist invented the laminated windscreen. This laminated screen provided greater strength but still maintained good vision as well. Henry Ford was the first carmaker to use laminated windscreens between 1919 and 1929. Today, windscreens have evolved greatly as they now come with tints to reduce the quantity of UV light and heat that gets into a vehicle.

  • Padded Dashboard

The padded dashboards were invented in the 1930s by Claire Straith but were not used until 1948 on a vehicle known as the Tucker. The use of padded dashboards became prevalent in the 1970s. Today, dashboards are often covered with materials made of PVC and ABS.

  • Modern 3-point seat belt

A Volvo engineer, Nils Bohlin developed the modern 3-point seat belt in 1959. Till date, Nil Bohlin’s invention is still considered one of the important automobile safety inventions made. As a result of the need to ensure public safety, the 3-point seatbelt patent was left open, allowing all carmakers to be able to access it. It has also helped save millions of lives over the years.


These are some of the ways the safety of automobiles has evolved over the years. It is obvious that every invention, and improvement on the inventions made, helps to take a further step in ensuring safety in the use of automobiles.

Take advantage of every invention and enjoy every ride with your automobile. Safety is paramount to life. Stay safe always. 

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