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Safe Driving Lesson Plan
History of Automotive Safety Features
Grade level: 10-12
Subject area: History
Duration: 20-50 minutes
Students will do the following:
• Study the potential dangers, risks and statistics associated with a variety of road safety issues such as speeding, driving while distracted and driving while drowsy.
• Study the history of safety features in vehicles. Discuss how features have changed, and how, though vehicles are safer, we must still drive safely.
Inform the students of the following
The history of car safety probably started after the first recorded automobile fatality was recorded. The accident happened on August 31, 1869 in a town in Ireland where a woman lost her life. This event probably triggered the awareness and the need for vehicle and road safety to protect not only vehicle drivers but also pedestrians.
Seat belts were initially an optional feature and viewed more as a novelty than critical life-saving devices, and the first automobile that offered them was the Rambler. The year was 1950 and the model was the Nash-Kelvinator.
Seat belts are now known as one of the auto industry's most significant automotive safety breakthroughs. Today, not only are seat belts mandatory as standard equipment in new cars, but most state laws require that we use them.
Along the way, another pioneering idea was air bags. These have undoubtedly saved lives. However, seatbelts are still necessary. The fact is that drivers who use seat belts in conjunction with the air bag are 23 percent less likely to experience moderate or severe injuries than those unbelted.
The Safety Movement
The roots of today's safety trend date back to the 1950s, when new car features appeared, such as wrap-around windshields (elimination of distracting center dividers), padded dashboards and collapsible steering columns (shafts that collapse like a telescope in a collision).