116 years ago Sunday (September 13th) New Yorker Henry Bliss was using public transportation. As he stepped off a streetcar at the corner of Central Park West and 74rth street, he was struck and killed by a car. One might say he was killed by the future because the vehicle that ran him down was an electric car. A taxi of course. Bliss’ accident was particularly bad luck, since, at that time in 1899 there were fewer than 8,000 cars in North America. Not only was Bliss the first person killed by a car in North America, he was the first killed by a car in the Western Hemisphere.
Since that time America has made automobile accidents a national pastime. Automobile-related deaths including motorcycles, buses, tractor trailers, and cars add up to roughly 34,000 U.S. deaths each year in the past few years, down considerably from the glory years of the 1950,s, 1960’s and 1970’s. Given the amount of attention that distracted driving receives one would assume it was a top cause of roadway deaths. Interestingly, traffic deaths per mile driven have declined every year since the advent of mobile phones. Alcohol is actually the most common cause, and nothing else is even close. With less than 1% of the vehicles on the road electric cars, it is hard to blame them for the carnage.
*Main story theme and facts courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau and Kane’s Famous First Facts.
Main Story image courtesy of videoviewmaker and Youtube.