Automobiles are one of the most common modes of transportation in the United States. They are used for travel, commerce, and pleasure. However, they are also one of the most expensive types of personal property in the country. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average driver drives more than a million miles per year.
The automobile was first invented in the late 1800s in Germany. It was the result of the desire for a self-propelling carriage. But, a three-wheeled vehicle with steerable front wheels was invented in 1884 by Edward Butler. This model employed a horizontal single-cylinder gasoline engine.
Automobiles have come a long way since their early days. Today, modern automobiles employ thousands of component parts. These include the internal combustion engine, the chassis, the body, and the safety systems. Automakers have also improved their emissions control systems and their drivetrains.
Automobiles are a major cause of air pollution. According to the American Petroleum Institute, the average motorist contributes more than 30 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile driven. And, a recent study found that an automobile can be responsible for up to 13 percent of all car accidents. Many of these are the result of poor maintenance and mechanical failure.
To make matters worse, automobiles are favorite targets of theft. One of the worst crimes against vehicles is when thieves steal the engines. Fortunately, manufacturers have been able to divide the market into small segments and introduce new designs more often.
As a result of economic development, the automobile became more popular in the United States. By the 1940s, the Big Three automakers dominated the market. Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler were the largest companies in the industry. During the first half of the twentieth century, these companies owned over 90 percent of the market.
Despite this, the auto industry faced a crisis in the early 1980s. At the time, foreign automakers began gaining market share, and the U.S. government bailed out the troubled Chrysler Corporation. Thankfully, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was established to coordinate state programs to improve driving behavior and to enforce automobile safety standards.
The automobile’s most important features are its safety and its ability to carry a large number of passengers. A seat belt is a must-have, but not the only safe driving tip. Another must-have is a passive restraint system for the front-seat occupants. Air bags can greatly reduce the likelihood of an accident.
Other automotive technologies include headlamps, hood ornaments, and grilles. Chrome was also used to transform various car elements. Some of the most exciting innovations have been a result of innovative aerodynamics and industrial materials.
Modern automobiles have evolved from a handful of breakthroughs in existing technology. These advances have been accompanied by increased safety regulations and stricter manufacturing standards. Unfortunately, these regulations do not go far enough in reducing injuries.
Nevertheless, the car is still the most popular form of transportation in the U.S., with 70 million passenger cars built each year. Even so, automobiles are a huge source of personal injury.