Highway safety in "the good old days"

Farmer Smith is a lousy driver. The other two guys are driving FAR too fast, given the crappy tires, brakes, and handling of cars of that era. But, at least this film provides a few views of cars of the '50s.

(340) Appointment with Disaster (1956) - YouTube

90% of accidents are caused by leaving your lane.

Yeah saw that one before. The poor tie salesman. Had a classmate had a band, then sold cans and bottle caps, then clothes on the road. Did himself in finally-tough life. The sidebar was a Highway Patrol episode though.

Man, if any short ever needed the MST3K treatment…

The top comment is great:

If the narrator knew there was going to be an accident why didn’t he warn them?

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OK , you made use Mr. Google again . MST3K ( Mystery Science Theater 3000 ) which I have never seen .

“The judge has seen this play out many times before, and Farmer Smith was involved in every one of them”
:rofl: :rofl:

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I had no idea what he was talking about either and still don’t. At any rate I’ll just say that I drove lots 50’s and 60’s cars and while there have been great strides since, I didn’t find them particularly dangerous. For the past 50 years all we hear is speed kills, but really it is not normal highway speed, it is running off the road or into somebody that kills. Seat belts, padded dash, collapsible steering wheel, safety glass, disc brakes, and so on, only help if you run into somebody. Don’t run into anyone and you’re good to go.

Or if somebody runs into you. It’s not all under your control.


Bad movies with smart-alec comments from the audience of 3…

PlutoTV, a streaming service available on Roku (and others) runs those pretty much constantly on one of their channels.

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When my father installed seat belts in our '63 Plymouth, my uncle (his brother-in-law) said, “What’s the matter, don’t you trust yourself behind the wheel?”.
My father’s response was, “Actually, it is wise-asses like you who I don’t trust when I’m on the road.”
My uncle had no come-back at that point.

Yes, but it also amounts to disparities in speed. If everyone is driving at… let’s say… 65, the guy who is driving at 85 is more likely to cause an incident with another vehicle. If everyone is driving at 85, then… not so much.

Exactly. Thinking that being a careful driver is the sole answer to road safety is an over simplification. The other guy–who could be… (pick one or more):
High on drugs
Fleeing from the cops
Just plain reckless…
… could wind-up colliding with your car, no matter how carefully one is driving.

Having passenger safety/protective equipment is a potential life-saver, even when the circumstances are not under your control.


Yes, it is the disparity of speed that is the most dangerous. NY State has a 55 mph speed limit for School buses. Going 55 On the NY Thruway with it’s 65 mph speed limit and most people going 75 is nerve wracking on a school field trip with a loaded bus. It keeps muscle tension in your neck and shoulders while you wait to be rear ended , hoping that people will see you in time to swerve around.

The speed limit for long double trtailers on the Thruway has always been 55 , bu no one has ever had the bad sense to try and enforce it, because the Troopers see the results of speed disparity every day.

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Sure, you are at the mercy of other drivers, but I was just responding to the cars of that era maybe not being so crappy. Even the drum brakes worked fine and you were simply attuned to the possibility of brake fade. The recapped nylon tires served their purpose. Unless you were racing, handling wasn’t really that big of a deal. All in all they had their limitations but if you respected those limitations you were in pretty good shape. I suspect people tend to put the current cars to their limits though thinking the air bags will save them. So it’s just a different scale.

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This is a joke right?

My dad wasn’t seriously injured because he was wearing a seatbelt and shoulder harness when he hit the guy that ran the red-light at 90mph. Luckily my Dad hit him. If my dad was 1 second faster he would have been hit and probably killed.

The first car I had with a shoulder harness was my 1968 Dodge. Hung on the ceiling so you had to take it down each time to use it. I put seat belts in my 59 but shoulder harnesses were more of the 70’s era. We were talking about cars in the 50’s and 60’s.

My first one with shoulder harnesses was my '71 Charger, and I think it was similar to yours. The belts were folded and held by a clip above the window. If you didn’t re-fold them and stow them under the clips after using them, then they dangled in the door opening.

Also…they did not retract or adjust, and the really big problem that I had with those shoulder harnesses was that I could not reach the release for the e-brake if I had the shoulder harness latched.

So, despite having looked-forward to having a car with shoulder harnesses, I wound up using them only on long highway drives because they were just too damned inconvenient to use around town. Having to unfasten the shoulder harness each time that I wanted to release the e-brake was… a bit much.

I was just curious to see what the fatalities were back in the 40’s and 50’s. I know I had seen the list before. Just did a quick search and gave up for Minnesota. Pedestrians, bike deaths, and so on for the last few years, but the PDF going back to 1910 put out by Public Safety was really strange. Started out ok for the first 10 years with 30-100 deaths, but soon the figures were 30-40,000. I think we are in the 3-600 range currently for Minnesota. Maybe that was for the whole country, I dunno but neither the report title or column heading said so. Just too tired to pursue it any further.

This what you’re wanting?

Nice try…

When seat belts first came out, I tried them. I quickly quit wearing them because I felt invincible with them on, Missing something by a half inch did not bother me at all. I gradually got used to wearing them when I realized everyone else was driving like they were invincible too.

I never did wear them in a tractor trailer though.The companies never made any attempt to make sure the seat belty required by law were compatible with the air ride seats required by contract. That meant every time the air seat went up and down, the belts tightened, but of course,they did not release.
Seat belts in a tractor trailer are dumb though, the danger is not you hitting the dash,steering wheel or windshield It is intrusion or crushing the cab by something immovable or heavy.

The only wreck I as ever in was hen I deliberately left the road with a bobtail tractor to avoid running over and killing someone in a pickup truck who slammed on his brakes as he was pulling in front of me on the thruway.

The tractor rolled over and the roof came down on the seat I had just vacated when I saw th center windshield post turn into an s just as the windshields exploded. Th metal core of the sat back did go through the back of my arm as I exited the satt, diving under the heater box on the other side of the cab.