Whether it is for leisure, commerce or passenger transportation, automobiles are the lifeblood of society. Modern automobiles are complex technical systems that use thousands of parts to operate.
Automobiles are also a major cause of air pollution. They can also cause tremendous personal injury. In fact, 13 percent of all auto accidents result from mechanical failure. During the late twentieth century, new technologies and safety legislation ushered in a new era for the automobile industry.
The first automobile powered by an internal combustion engine was invented in Germany during the 1880s. A similar machine was designed by bicycle builder Sylvester Howard Roper in 1867.
During the twentieth century, auto companies were required to conform to stricter safety standards. This increased the demand for automobiles and lowered the prices of vehicles. But automakers lobbied against safety regulations, claiming that most injuries were caused by driver error. In the 1980s, the auto industry was in bad shape. Auto companies were losing ground to foreign manufacturers. In order to regain ground, the U.S. government negotiated a quota system with Japan that restricted Japanese auto imports to the U.S. In the 1990s, American auto companies regained the ground lost to foreign auto makers.
The automobile industry grew rapidly during the first half of the twentieth century. The auto industry was dominated by a small number of auto companies. By the 1920s, the three largest auto makers were Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. These three companies had 90 percent of the market. However, the automobile industry suffered a major setback in the 1920s. The 1920s was a difficult period for automotive production in the United States.
In 1965, Ralph Nader published a book entitled Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile. This book outlined the hazards of driving an automobile and highlighted the importance of consumer protection. It became a landmark in the history of U.S. consumer protection.
During the 1970s, automobiles were hit hard by oil shortages and rising gasoline prices. Consumer safety advocates began to pressure the federal government to set stricter safety standards. The regulations were designed to improve safety and reduce the number of motor vehicle fatalities. However, experts believe that the regulations only go so far. The best way to lower the number of auto injuries is to require auto manufacturers to design safer cars.
Many people mistakenly believe that motorcycles fall under the automobile definition. However, motorcycles are not classified as automobiles, especially if they do not have wheels. Most motorcycles are three-wheeled and do not have the four-wheeled configuration that cars have.
Automobiles can be a romantic date option, especially if you are in love with a driver. They can also be a great way to normalize regular road trips. However, they are expensive, and can be a target for thieves. Unless you are very well-versed in motorcycles, you may want to consider getting a passenger or two.
If you are going to drive a motorcycle, you need to be aware of the safety features that are available to you. These include air bags, which form a cushion to protect occupants in the event of a crash. Seat belts are a requirement, but seat belts that attach across the lap and shoulder reduce the probability of fatalities by 32 percent.