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A look back at New York City car accident history

It has been 115 years since Henry H. Bliss stepped down from a New York City streetcar and into the pages of history books. The unfortunate man was run over by an electric taxi cab, dying of his injuries the next day.  

He thus became the first person in the United States to die in a car accident. He was also quite clearly the first pedestrian fatality in our history. By the end of 1899, 25 more people would die in motor vehicle accidents. By the end of the next year, another 36 had been killed. And the tragedies have continued to mount ever since.

The toll passed a million total fatalities in the 1950s.

The growing numbers were awakening Americans that something had to be done. So President Dwight Eisenhower decided to declare a National Safe Driving Day.  

On Dec. 1, 1955 – Safe Driving Day – 69 people were killed across the nation in car crashes. That year, more than 36,000 people died in accidents.

In 2012, the toll was 33,561. The U.S. Department of Transportation says on its website that it estimates that 32,850 people died on our roads last year, a drop of 2.1 percent from 2012. Because we have a significantly greater population today than we did back in 1955, it’s clear that advances in safety technology, traffic management, road design and public education about safe driving have saved countless lives.

The statistics can be numbing, especially for someone who has lost a loved one in an auto accident. An attorney experienced in wrongful death litigation and motor vehicale accidents can help a family fight to hold the person who caused the crash accountable for his or her actions.

Source: The Daily Progress, “Yesteryears: Human nature put brakes on plans for accident-free National Safe Driving Day,” Oct. 12, 2014

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