Up until 1967, making cars in the US was a bit of the wild west.
Strong, hot blooded.
Safety was only loosely regulated.
Cars were largely designed for style.
Then along comes Ralph Nader.
His book, Unsafe At Any Speed, started a national dialogue about auto safety, Congress held hearings, and on March 1, 1967, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards took effect, a vast bible of safety regulations that all new cars must conform to if they're gonna be legal for sale in the US.
For example just consider the lowly safety belt, the first thing the FMVSS mandated back in '67.
It says that this device.
Must have no burrs or sharp edges on its hardware, have only one way to latch it.
The belt can be no less than 46 millimeters wide.
It must adjust to fit a fifth percentile female, all the way up to a 95th percentile male.
Between five and 6000 pounds of breaking force.
Have its cut ends treated not to fray, resist UV light and micro-organisms, and have the belt's maker, model, manufacturer, date, and overseas importer permanently inscribed on it.
And that's just a summary for a belt.
Regulations cover just about every part of a car involved in crash avoidance.
Crash worthiness and post crash survivability.
From bumpers to lights, shifters to doors, mirrors to buttons, brakes to display panels.
But if you really wanna see the effects of the SMBSS just look at a graph.
As the miles we drive in the US have soared, the deaths per mile driven have plummeted.
The expectation of automotive safety has radically changed since March of '67, and carmakers know it pays to double-check that every bit of their designs conforms to the FMBSX.
More realities of modern driving revealed now at CNETOnCars.com.
Click on smarter driving.
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