Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
Publication: Historical Archives. Posted by
Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
It's never a good time to get in a car accident. Automobiles didn't go as fast back in the 20s when this photo was taken, but then again the seatbelt hadn't been invented yet.
For many, there’s few situations that can be more frustrating than being in a car accident. Not only is there a good chance that your vehicle is no longer operational following the accident, but then you have to go through the insurance process. You have to call in, file a claim and hope that their investigation (which can certainly be overbearing) doesn’t find you at fault and raise your premiums by an insane amount. Oh, and you also have to find a rental car in the meantime while your car is being repaired so you can do important things like get to work so that you can pay for the exorbitant costs of insurance.
If you think car insurance is a pain in the rear now, you should’ve been around back when cars first started to become a common sight on the road. There was no cell phone to immediately call for a tow or file a claim on an app, and no internet connection to streamline the process through e-mail and set up appointments. Insurance was certainly around at the time, though, though it was mostly contained to boats, otherwise known as marine insurance.
A lot of the first auto insurance policies that were written up were handled by these marine insurance companies, opening up a brand new market. For a few years, there weren’t really specific auto insurance policies until 1898, when a man named Truman Martin became the first to obtain one. It became very important to have insurance almost right away, as the cars back then weren’t exactly safe, and a lot of people were being introduced to driving for the first time ever.
There weren’t too many crashes at the onset of the motor vehicle, but that’s mainly because they were extremely expensive and not many could afford them. That changed during the 1910’s, though, as vehicles became more readily available for the common person. This caused an extreme rise in the amount of accidents, especially fatal ones. At the time, a lot of people were driving what was known as the Ford Model T, which became an iconic car in history.
That’s the type of car that you see here, which has crashed onto the sidewalk off of the streets of Washington D.C.. Several onlookers that witnessed the accident stand around the aftermath of the incident, leaving the vehicle certainly undriveable as it appears to be missing its front tire on the passenger’s side. A tow truck would certainly be needed here, as long as you could get a hold of one.
The Model T went into mass production thanks to the creation of the assembly line that made the process much quicker for Ford. At the beginning of the 1910s, Ford was churning out 12,000 Model Ts in a single year, and improved their production on a near weekly basis. By the end of the decade, Ford was producing that many in a single day, with around two million being created every year. Since the cost to make the Model T was low, Ford was able to sell them at an affordable price for consumers, costing just over $250. You couldn’t go for a single block in a major town without seeing someone driving a Model T, helping to establish the United States as the world leader in the automotive industry.
The photo that you see here comes from 1921, when Ford was essentially at its peak in terms of Model T production. However, that also meant that people had reached a peak at that point in terms of car crashes. There were more than 13,250 vehicle related deaths in the United States alone that year, with over 12 fatalities per 100,000 citizens. That number continued to climb at a steady rate until the years leading up to World War II, hitting a peak of nearly 30 deaths per 100,000 people in the late 1930s and early 1940s. By then, the Model T was taken off of the production line in the United States.
In the mid 1920s, Ford had shifted their focus to the newer Model A, with the Model T finally being put to rest on a global basis in the 1940s. Still, many people spend their time restoring Model Ts as they’re a part of American history. You won’t see a lot of them on the road (mainly because of the low speed and safety ratings), but it’s always a treat. You might expect to see more than there are, especially considering that in today’s money, the Model T cost under $4,000 at its lowest. Many people would do anything for that kind of cost for a modern vehicle.
Car accidents like the one seen here were very common, but are much less common today. The improvements in the infrastructure of cities around the United States such as traffic lights with smarter functions have helped to reduce not only the amount of total accidents, but the safety ratings in cars have also lowered deaths tremendously. Now, there are only around 11 deaths per 100,000 U.S. citizens each year. While still not a perfect situation, it’s a far cry from what it once was.
It’s hard to imagine what the world would’ve looked like if it weren’t for the creation of the Model T, even if it wasn’t the safest vehicle. Mass production was made possible by companies like Ford, allowing other automakers around the world to go into competition to create a vehicle that could reach high speeds while also being safer, more fuel efficient and last for much longer. One thing that remains true from pictures such as this one is the fact that when there’s an accident, people always tend to want to see what happened. For the most part, we call that “rubbernecking.”
Traffic back then was described as being a sort of “free for all” where people made up their own rules on the fly. There’s still drivers like that around, unfortunately, but extensive training and better cars have improved people’s’ ability to avoid trouble. Just in case you do, though, at least a tow truck and insurance companies are only a cell phone call away.