Before Seatbelts and Airbags: Terrible Photos of Car Accidents in the Early 20th Century

A car and train collision on the level crossing at Weasenham Lane, Wisbech, March 4, 1910

By 1950, almost every race-car driver used safety seat belts.

American car manufacturers Nash (in 1949) and Ford (in 1955) offered seat belts as options, while Swedish Saab first introduced seat belts as standard in 1958. After the Saab GT 750 was introduced at the New York Motor Show in 1958 with safety belts fitted as standard, the practice became commonplace.

h/t: vintag.es

Fatal racing accident, Illinois, 1910

In 1973, GM’s Oldsmobile Toronado became the first car ever with a passenger airbag. Later on, GM made its own air cushion restraint system (ACRS) available as an option for regular production cars such as Cadillacs, Oldsmobile and Buick models during 1974.

An early electric automobile hangs precariously off the Glen Road Bridge, Ontario in the winter of 1912

They made cars equipped with ACRS on the driver side, driver-side knee restraint, and the passenger side. The passenger side airbag protects front passengers, and also included a dual stage deployment, which depended on the force of impact.

Recently, I published bizarre vintage photos of steam engines after a boiler explosion from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

A car accident in 1912

An early automobile wreck, 1913

A classic car collision with a street lamp, 1918

Auto accident No. 1042 Bloor Street West near Walmer Road. Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 4 March 1918

Car wreck with two wheels missing, 1918

Trolley vs car crash in Washington D.C., 1918

A two-car collision in Washington D.C., circa 1919

Car wreck from the late 1910s

A fashioned automobile crashed into tree, 1920

An overturned car, 1920

Traffic accident in Washington, D.C, 1920

A car collided with a bus in Waltham, Mass., 1921

Booze bootlegger car crash aftermath, 1922

Model “T” Ford wrecked on a median, 1922

Motor vehicle crash, 1922

Prohibition-era car wreck with boxes of moonshine, 1922

An antique motor vehicle wreck in 1926

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