Are older cars safer than newer ones, and does it really matter how big your vehicle is if you're involved in a crash? Do you know which car maker came up with the three-point seatbelt, or what makes disc brakes so much better than older brake designs? Take our quiz to test your automotive safety IQ!
By almost any measure, traveling by car is significantly safer than it used to be. Sure, some of that is due to things like speed limits, drunk driving crackdowns and better education, but a whole lot of the reduction in crash fatalities can be credited to car makers and the safety advances they've made over the years.
In 1950, 33,186 people in the United States died in car accidents. That's 67.5 deaths for every 100,000 registered vehicles. By 2000, the number of vehicle deaths per 100,000 cars had dropped to 18.57. By 2015, it dropped even further, to 12.47 per 100,000 registered vehicles.
What caused that decline in road deaths? Things like anti-lock brakes, crumple zones, cell design, airbags and electronic stability control all helped, but the most significant factor was probably seat belts - both better designs and more people actually using them. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that seat belts saved 14,688 lives in 2016 alone, and 88 percent of drivers and passengers now buckle up, compared to just 11 percent in 1981.
Think you know everything about the evolution of car safety? Prove it with this quiz!