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Motor Vehicles Hazards Archive | Noteworthy Documents
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NOTEWORTHY DOCUMENTS

In the process of the Archive's organization, documents of special historical interest become available. These are posted and described here. Later they will be included in thematic collections as appropriate.

The documents described below are foundational in the motor vehicle injury control field.

Crash Injuries: How and Why They Happen - A Primer for Anyone Who Cares About People in Cars. Alvin S. Hyde, Ph.D., M.D.
In the context of injurious outcomes, what actually happens in motor vehicle crashes? This comprehensive book gives the answers. Written for professionals and laypersons with an interest in crash injuries - physicians, researchers, attorneys, regulators, consumers or anyone else - the book explains why certain injuries occur under specific crash conditions. It emphasizes injuries related to the use, nonuse, misdesign or failure of restraint systems. It is essential reading for anyone concerned with crash injury causation and prevention. 271 pages
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"Analysis Of Survival In Falls From Heights Of Fifty To One Hundred And Fifty Feet," from War Medicine in 1942. Hugh De Haven
At the time this was published, the author, Hugh De Haven, held the title of research associate at the Department of Physiology, Cornell University, Medical College, New York. But he was much more than that. An iconoclastic, largely self-taught researcher and investigator, he had acquired unique insights into the nature of traumatic injury that ran against the unscientific "act of God" notions of injury causation prevailing at the time - notions that had severely retarded progress in the design of motor vehicles and aircraft in directions that would increase their crashworthiness and reduce the injuries they permitted in so-called "accidents." It would be years before the findings of this elegant study were translated into vehicle design improvements, often over strong resistance from manufacturers. But when those improvements finally began to come about, De Haven's efforts, this study principal among them, were recognized for their groundbreaking contributions.

Historically, until the mid-20th century, concern for preventing injuries focused almost exclusively on changing human behavior to prevent "accidents." How De Haven became intrigued by the need for clear thinking and objective research into injury causation was described in his brief commentary about the "Falls" paper:

My interest in the mechanics of injury and safety design dates from experiences in the Royal Air Force during the last war. Observations made at that time, during investigation of air crashes, gave strong indication that many of the traumatic results of aircraft and automobile accidents could be avoided. Structures and objects, by placement and design, created an inevitable expectance of injury in even minor accidents. Occasionally, however, accidents apparently having every fatal characteristic would occur without causing physical injury. Detailed evidence of apparently miraculous survival in the instances of free fall, described here, indicates the strength of the body under conditions of extreme force closely paralleling those encountered in many severe automobile and aircraft accidents.

The commentary appears as an afterword to the paper. Hugh De Haven died in 1980.
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Larsen v. General Motors.
Departing from earlier cases, this seminal judicial decision placed a new and important responsibility on motor vehicle manufacturers to provide reasonable levels of crashworthiness to occupants in crashes. Until Larsen, plaintiffs in crash injury product-liability litigation could prevail by arguing that a product defect had caused the accident, but not that one had caused the injury. See, e.g., Evans v. General Motors, 359 F.2d 822 (7th Cir. 1966). Larsen broke ground by holding that vehicle collisions are foreseeable to manufacturers and that cars thus must be reasonably crashworthy. This aligned the Court with the view taken by Congress in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, 49 U.S.C. sec. 30101, et seq., establishing minimal crashworthiness standards for motor vehicles.
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"Styling vs. Safety: The American Automobile Industry and the Development of Automotive Safety, 1900-1966," by Joel Eastman, 1984, reproduced with permission of the University Press of America.
Prior to the advent of federal regulatory control over aspects of automotive safety, the industry was in effect the self-regulator of policies and practices that influenced the crash propensity and crashworthiness of motor vehicles. In this fascinating book, the author documents a pattern and lineage of industry behavior that resulted in huge numbers of needless deaths and injuries on the highways: "The tragedy is that the resources and talent of the largest and most profitable industry in the world were annually marshaled to create inconsequential and sometimes dangerous style changes on an obsolescent vehicle in which thousands of people were yearly killed and injured." 280 pages
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"Crash Injuries: The Integrated Medical Aspects of Automobile Injuries and Deaths," Jacob Kuwolski, Charles C. Thomas, 1960.
One of the first systematic, comprehensive analyses and guidebooks on the pathology of crash injuries and the contribution of motor vehicle design to those injuries. Written particularly for physicians dealing with injury victims. Graphics and text provide detailed crash injury examples of the connections between designed-in motor vehicle hazards and the kinds of human trauma associated with them.1080 pages.
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"Accident Research: Methods and Approaches", William Haddon, Jr., M.D. et al.
Published in 1965 by the Association for the Aid of Crippled Children, this is a groundbreaking compilation of papers by leading authorities on a range of injury control issues. The papers themselves are important; equally or more so are the commentaries by Haddon and his fellow authors, which frame a new non-fatalistic, science-based way of analyzing injury causation.
CONTENTS, INDEX, AND CHAPTER ONE
CHAPTER TWO
CHAPTER THREE
CHAPTER FOUR
CHAPTER FIVE
CHAPTER SIX
CHAPTER SEVEN
CHAPTER EIGHT
CHAPTER NINE
CHAPTER TEN

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