The earliest automobiles begin using headlamps previously used on horse-driven buggies, which operate by burning kerosene in front of mirrored reflectors.1889
The first electric headlight is introduced as an option on the Columbia electric car. Filaments were brittle and needed to be replaced frequently, so these lights were not widely implemented.
The first automobile speedometers are introduced by Oldsmobile. For the first time, drivers could monitor their speed.1914
The first traffic signal is installed in Cleveland, OH. The introduction of these signals revolutionized traffic safety.1919
The first 4-way, tri-color light is installed in Detroit. The implementation of the yellow light allowed drivers to anticipate an approaching red light.
Laminated safety glass becomes standard on all Ford vehicles. This prevents windshields from shattering and causing additional harm in the event of a crash.1934
- General Motors conducts the first vehicle crash test in Milford, MI. These tests allow for a greater understanding of high-speed impacts and occupant safety.
- The first driver's education program in the US is launched in a high school in State College, Pennsylvania.1939
Buick replaces hand signals with the introduction of the blinker.
First padded dashboard is introduced in the Tucker 48. This provided extra protection in the event of an accident.1949
The Chrysler Imperial is the first vehicle produced in the United States to come standard with 4-wheel disc brakes.
The first crumple zone concept is patented by Mercedes-Benz. Crumple zones are designed to crush in the event of an accident to absorb energy from the impact and protect the vehicle's occupants.1959
Volvo introduces the first modern 3-point seatbelt that restrains both the lap and shoulder of the vehicle's occupants.
The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act is signed into United States law. It allows the federal government to set safety standards for automobiles throughout the country.1968
- Volvo introduces head restraints, or headrests, as standard equipment. The device works to prevent or limit the possibility of whiplash during a collision.
- The United states law begins to require 2-point lap seatbelt in the front seats in all new vehicle makes produced for use within the country.1969
All new vehicles in the United States must include head restraints on the vehicle's front seats for whiplash protection
The Chrysler Imperial is the first production vehicle to come standard with anit-lock brakes. The technology allows for additional control and shorter stopping distances on slippery surfaces.1973
- General Motors introduces the first commercially available air bags in 1,000 of the Chevrolet Impalas. The airbag did not perform well on the market and was shelved for a few years.
- The United States requires all new vehicles to offer a 3-point lap-shoulder seatbelt in the front driver and passenger seat.1974
The United States introduces a law that requires a belt-interlock system on all new vehicles. The system requires all seatbelts to be fastened in order for the engine to start. The unpopular law is later repealed.
Mercedes-Benz introduces the seatbelt pretensioner in its 1981 S-Class. The device works by tightening the belt in the event of intense braking or a collision and reducing the motion of the occupants.1985
- By the end of the year, all states have passed a child safety seat law that requires infants and toddlers to be properly secured in a specialty designed child safety seat.
- The United States passes a law that all new vehicles must include a third top and center brake light, in addition to the two existing lights.1989
Chrysler becomes the first automaker in the United States to include air bags standard in all vehicles.
The first head-on collision between two cars equipped with airbags occurs. Both drivers survive and walk awa.
According to United States law, all new cars are required to come standard with passive restraints such as airbags and seatbelt pretensioners.1991
Volvo introduces the Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) on several of its models. SIPS incorporates a crumple zone between the driver and passenger sides that absorbs energy in the event of collision on the side of the vehicle.1992
Chrysler offers integrated child safety seats in their line of minivans.1994
Volvo improves SIPS with the addition of side-impact air bags. These air bags protect the driver and passenger from exessive movement in the event of a collision on the side of the vehicle.1995
Daytime running lights are offered in many new vehicle makers. This allows for greater visibility during the day.
49 out of of the 50 states have mandatory seatbelt laws. Over 75,000 lives were saved by seatbelts during this year alone.1996
The United States experiences 2 automotive-related deaths per every 10,000 motor vehicles.1998
Side curtain airbags are introduced in many new vehicle makes. These airbags offer additional side protection for front and rear passengers.
Cadillac offers a night vision interfact which displays infrared image on the windshield of the road ahead. The feature is seen on its Deville model.2001
Nissan introduces the first optional backup camera on vehicles in their Infinity series. The camera allows for greater visibility when in reverse.2002
There are 42,815 traffic-related fatalities in the United States; this down from 1979 by over 16 %2007
Volvo introduces the Blind Sport Information System (BLIS). The system provides the driver with a visible alert when there is a vehicle in the blind spot while attempting to switch lanes.2008
Tire pressure monitoring systems are required on all new vehicle makes in the United States. This system alerts drivers immediately when a tire is flat or unsafe to drive on.2009
Volvo introduces emergency brake assist, which automatically applies the brakes to prevent a collision, should the driver fail to do so. The system is only able to reach a complete stop at speeds under 18mph.
Toyota implements the Pre-Collision System in its new vehicles. The system identifies hazards in the road, such as other vehicles or pedestrians, and will apply the brakes or steer out of the way to avoid a collision, depending on the best determined route.