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Domestic Violence and Abuse

The First Car Accident


The First Car Accident Car accidents are a sad fact of life. Every
day thousands lose their lives in collisions, crashes and accidents. Though the car itself
is a fairly recent invention, the first recorded accident involving them could have happened
almost 300 years ago. Depending on what your definition of a car is.
Though it looked nothing like the modern cars you see on the road today, the very first
accident involving an auto-mobile is said to be one involving the creation of French
inventor, Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot in 1771. Cugnot supposedly built the very first “self propelled
mechanical vehicle” capable of carrying passengers. We added that extra part at the
end because the first “car” (a word we use in the loosest possible sense) was thought
to have been invented by Father Ferdinand Verbiest, a Flemish missionary. Of course,
as is the way with every single invention ever, Verbiest was in China when he invented
his toy, because China seemingly invented everything, even toilet paper.
We’re not using the word toy in a chiding manner either, Verbiest’s invention was
literally intended to be nothing more than a toy for a Chinese emperor. As such, the
final creation (if it was ever created at all) was far too small to accept passengers;
thus, Cugnot holds the title of creating the first known auto-mobile that you could ride
in. However, as noted in this Jalopnik article, Leonardo da Vinci beat everyone to the punch
by two clear centuries in coming up with the basic idea of powered transport.
But we digress, Cugnot’s, fardier à vapeur (steam dray), is likely the very first built
and assembled steam powered vehicle in history that could transport a human being, though
it never actually saw widespread use. The story goes that some time in 1769 Cugnot showed
French officials his prototype design for a steam wagon capable of carrying cannons
for the military; however, it wasn’t until 1771 that Cugnot had a working prototype people
could ride on. Cugnot then reportedly invited several French officials to join him on the
maiden voyage. During the trip, the vehicle careened out of control and smashed into some
unlucky person’s garden wall at a nail-biting 2MPH. However, some historians question whether
this event actually happened, due to scant direct documented evidence.
To find a better documented accident, you actually need to travel 98 years into the
future to 1869. On August 31st in the City of Birr in Ireland, Mary Ward, a scientist
and writer had the unfortunate privilege of becoming the first known person to be killed
by an auto-mobile. On that day, Mary and three companions were enjoying a trip on a steam
powered carriage. While in motion, the carriage hit a bump, throwing Mary from her seat and
into the path of one of the carriage’s wheels where she was crushed and instantly killed.
Mary’s death was reported the next day in the King’s County Chronicle and a formal
inquest was held to discover the cause of death and whether anyone was at fault. In
the end, the jury decided that Ward’s death was nothing more than a terrible accident,
though the reason for the carriage suddenly jolting and throwing Mary to the ground was
never discovered. This murderous steam carriage itself was invented
by the pioneer of the steam turbine and Ward’s cousin, Sir Charles Algernon Parsons and his
brother. Remarkably, Parsons was only 15 in 1869, meaning he invented one of the earliest
precursors to modern transport at an age when many of us are just discovering girls. Although,
at 16, Alexander the Great was busy conquering Maedi, when they dared revolt against Macedonia;
also, at 16, a peasant girl by the name of Jeanne d’Arc, aka Joan of Arc, was taking
her first steps into historical baddassedness by having the gall to approach a garrison
commander and trying to tell him how to do his job, so take that Sir Parsons.
Parsons didn’t just invent the death mobile, he and his brother were two of the passengers
on board the carriage when Mary was killed. Luckily for the world, Parsons wasn’t deterred
from inventing by this terrible accident and went on to contribute massively to the world
of engineering. It would take until 1896 for the first fatal
accident to occur on English soil whereas the first accident in the US occurred five
years earlier than this in 1891. In the case of the former, the victim, Bridget Driscoll,
was struck and killed by an auto-mobile going 4MPH. If you’re wondering how Bridget was
hit by a raucous vehicle powered by explosions and fire travelling slower than most people
walk, according to witnesses of the time, Bridget saw the vehicle “zigzagging” towards
her and simply froze out of either fear or utter confusion, which resulted in her being
unable to get out of the way. As for the first accident to happen on American
soil, this was decidedly less dangerous and ended with all parties leaving unharmed. The
event itself occurred in Ohio in 1891 and it involved auto-mobile legend, John William
Lambert. The accident itself was the result of Lambert hitting a tree root and swerving
out of control… If only he’d thought to invent power steering first.
So, in the end, there are two possible stories about the world’s first car accident, it’s
either, “A lady was horribly crushed in front of her teenage cousin by the invention
he created in 1869“, or “A Frenchman smashed into a large stationary object, a wall at
2 MPH in 1771 and walked away unharmed.” We really wish there was more direct evidence
of the latter, because the first accident ending in a death is decidedly less humorous.

Cesar Sullivan

34 thoughts on “The First Car Accident

  1. I was in a bad car accident when I was 16.  As I was driving, some dumbarse didn't yield, T-boned me and totally f-cked up my car.  Put me in a coma for 15 days.

  2. The accident involving Mary Ward in 1869 lacks credability, Mary being a Scientist and writer would have being wearing a seat belt. The seat belt would have restrained her preventing injury and in this case death. Check your facts before making stupid statements.

  3. I was hoping that you would also report the first documented car on car collision, and maybe the repercussions of said accident (i.e. fines, damage to vehicles, etc.) great video though. just started watching about a month ago and will watch a new video at any breaks throughout the day

  4. After Mary's death her husband basically told the Parsons' that you killed her, so you can bury her, and as a result she is the only non-Parsons buried in their family mausoleum in the old graveyard in the town.

  5. According to "my" research, Cougnot's "gun tractor " crashed into the outside wall of the palace.—whereby culminating in the vehicle being impounded and Cugnot. Being jailed.

  6. I grew up in Ohio. The full story for that accident is that there were only two automobiles at the time in the state of Ohio and they collided with each other. I've never heard the tree root part, but that's believable.

  7. I'm sorry to tell you but the first real car have been invented by depending on who you ask: 1. Karl Benz in 1885, 2. Gottlieb Daimler in 1886.
    Funny enough the picture showed from 1:02 to 1:12 is showing the "Karl Benz Motorwagen" from 1885 and not a chinese toy!
    You might possible recognize theire names from the "Gottlieb Daimler AG" which is still producing cars, today under the brand "Mercedes Benz".

  8. There is a piece of missing audio in this video.

    First we hear that the first accident on British soil occured in 1896, while the first accident in the U.S. happened 5 years earlier, in 1891. Immediately after this, Simon says: "if you're wondering how Bridget was hit by a raucous vehicle powered by explosions and fire going slower than most people walk… etc."

    But we weren't wondering that, because until then we hadn't heard poor Bridget's name mentioned. Instead, we were wondering "who's Bridget?". At least some of us were. Well, at least I was.

    Fortunately, I am using closed captions (which amazingly works on this channel) and the captions fill the gap missing in the audio.

    The missing audio:

    "In the case of the former, the victim, Bridget Driscoll, was struck and killed by an auto-mobile going 4MPH."

    So if anyone else had noticed the missing audio and, not using captions, wondered about it, you can wonder no more.

    You're welcome​. 🙂

  9. Every time I hear Car Accident And alcohol or texting/ talking on phone is involved. I for one don't call that an accident I call it stupid. Just had to get that off my chest.

  10. Now that you know all about the first car accident check out this video and find out how Teflon was invented by accident:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FsYvD27POA

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