Park Street’s Classic Car Show in Alameda

Park Street’s 20th Annual Classic Car Show is this weekend in Alameda. The show will feature over 400 vintage cars including Hot Rods, Muscle Cars, Roadsters and Classic Trucks. I love a good car show!! I always marvel at the beautifully restored automobiles. It is a real stroll down memory lane! I’m hoping to see my first car, a ’65 blue Chevy Impala SS. It was a sweet ride with dual exhausts, a 327 V-8 engine with black leather interior. I found this photo that looks just like it. car

As an Alameda Personal Injury Attorney, car shows always make me wonder how anyone survived an accident in those old cars though. They did not have headrests, updated seat belts, airbags and sensing systems. These improvements have enhanced the safety of today’s cars and have greatly improved the chances of surviving a serious automobile crash.

My ’65 Chevy did not have headrests. In the 1960’s more than 400,000 persons a year suffered the effects of whiplash in rear end accidents. The head jerking back past the top of the seat back in a rear end collision caused injury to the neck and upper back. Automobile manufacturers in conjunction with safety research institutions devised the head restraint which in effect extends the back of the seat and thereby supports the neck and head and helps prevent hyperextension. Beginning January 1, 1969 the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency required head restraints for all passenger cars sold in the United States. Statistical research has shown that head restraints have significantly reduced whiplash injuries in rear impact crashes since that law was implemented.

My car had bucket seats with seat belts but they were the two point lap belts. The Sports Car Club of America first introduced these belts to cars. They kept motorists from bouncing around in the vehicle in an accident or being thrown from the car. But there were negative side effects such as abdominal injuries, vertebral fractures, spinal chord injuries and paralysis. Nils Bohlin, a Swedish engineer who worked for Volvo in the 1960’s designed the three-point seat belt which added the strap across the chest. The NHTSA credits this seat belt system for saving over 11,000 lives each year in the U.S.

In the early 70’s major US automakers began offering cars equipped with airbags. They were initially called “Supplemental Restraint Systems, and were created because people were not using the seat belts. That was before the law mandating seat belt use. The slogan ” Click it or Ticket” was not posted on highways in those days advising motorists to buckle up. Airbags have evolved over the years to be one of the most effective safety devices in a vehicle especially in a head on collision.

More recently auto manufacturers have introduced innovative sensing systems to detect how close you are to another vehicle or object has reduced the number of accidents involving large vehicles such as trucks and SUV’s that have poor visability. The sensors also warn if you are backing your car up and an object is behind you such as a bicycle preventing potentially tragic accidents.

I am happy that cars today have these safety features but I will enjoy the car show this weekend and appreciate the beauty of the old cars too.

Alameda Sun, October 12, 2013
National Highway Transportation Safety Agency
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