Monday, June 26, 2017

Early Auto Crash Testing, 1953 and 1954 -- Motor Vehicle Research, Epping, NH

During the early 1950s a number of researchers began to study auto safety and design issues.  The most prominent was Hugh De Haven at Cornell University, and Amy Gangloff has told that story in the pages of Technology and Culture. There was one other research group, however, that made a number of studies and pin-pointed safety design features that could have saved thousands of lives during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Motor Vehicle Research was the brainchild of Dean Fales at MIT and A.J. White.   The organization implemented several improvements and also pioneered the remote control of automobiles for the purpose of examining the nature of crash damage to both the vehicle and human occupants. MVR developed a safer baby seat; reinforced automobile roofs and doors. They advocated safety belts more than a decade before such belts were used in most U.S. cars. MVR developed the padded dash and recessed knobs on the dashboard. They understood the value of rubber encased windshields that popped out on impact and breakaway steering posts that wouldn't spear the brain of the driver.  Seats needed to be better find or braced within the car. These researchers also understood the value of a car stripped of chrome accessories, like hood ornaments.

Using cameras and dummies, plenty of crash assessment was done.  Among the conclusions was that car parts absorbed much of the energy at impact, a concept key to the safety of automobiles today.

Sadly, I could find not one photo on the internet to include in this post.

See the following articles in Life:
8/31/53, p.12.
4/12/54, p.1.
4/26/54, p.74.
6/7/54, p.135.

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