Editorial 

According to the 2010 edition of “Injury facts” between 1912 and 2008 motor vehicle death per 10,000 registered vehicles were reduced by 95 per cent from 33 to less than two. In 1912, there were 3100 fatalities when the number of vehicles registered totalled only 950,000.

In 2008, there were 39,000 fatalities, but registration soared to 258 million. Much of this improvement can be attributed to improved roads and vehicles as well as to factors such as awareness campaign, education effort and new technologies.

We should consider these three innovations and inventions that have made roads safer over the past 100 years.

Read Also: Setting a Course for Road Safety

First is Windshield wipers. Although the automatic windshield wiper was not invented until the 1920s, the original windshield wiper was invented in 1903 by Mary Anderson. Anderson reportedly got the idea when visiting New York in 1902. She noticed a trolley car driver removed the front window in order to see through the sleet that would pile up on the windshield. She then created the swinging arm windshield wiper that was operated from inside the car using a lever. That is to say, necessity is the mother of invention.

Second is the Fitch Barrier which impacts attenuator-essentially plastic barrel filled with sand or water, usually yellow colour with a black lid. The Fitch highway barrier system invented by race car driver John Fitch is a series of impact attention often found in a triangular arrangement at the tip of a guardrail between a highway and an exit lane, usually along the most probable line of impact. The barriers in front contain the least sand with each successive barrel containing more so that when a vehicle collides with the barrels they shatter and the kinetic energy is dissipated by scattering the sand, the vehicle decelerates smoothly instead of violently striking a solid obstruction, reducing the risk of injury to the occupants. The FRSC barriers which first came into use in the 1960s are widely popular due to their effectiveness, low cost and ease of setup and repair or replacement. The yellow barrels are on National science foundation (NSF) NITTY 50 list of NFS- funded inventions, innovations and discoveries that have become commonplace.

Lastly, is Airbag John Hetrick, a retired industrial engineer patented his safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles in 1953. It was the first prototype for today’s modern airbags. Allen Breed invented a “sensor and safety” system in 1968, the world’s first electromechanical automotive airbag system. During the 1970 US auto manufacturers, including ford and general motors, experimented with and tested airbags in various models, although their success was limited because these early systems had design issues. By 1998, Chrysler became the first company to offer airbag restraint systems as standard equipment. Airbags have been mandatory in all cars since 1998.

These are just three examples of inventions that have made for safe driving. The world is waiting for your own contribution. The platform of our Safety Record is available for you to express it. Don’t keep your idea a secret. Tell us.

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