Two Amazing Females Who Made Cars Safer
Cars Aren’t Just a Guy Thing
We’ve come a long way from a world which once used to naturally regard females as inferior to males. And even if a woman behind the wheel of a car had become a symbol of women’s liberation at one point in our history, the fact remains that the automobile world remains a male-dominated industry. Still, it’s good to know that many women are recognized as significant contributors to this male-dominated world. And of the numerous women who have helped shape the auto industry to what it is today, here are two of our favorites.
Holder of U.S. Patent No. 743,801 awarded on November 10, 1903, Mary Anderson of Birmingham, Alabama is recognized as the creator of a window cleaning device that operates “on the outside of the glass, to remove snow, rain or sleet from the centre vestibule window of modern electric motor cars, and operable from the inside of the vestibule.” In other words, we owe our car’s windshield wipers to the resourcefulness and creativity of Mary Anderson.
As the story went, Mary Anderson came up with the idea of her window wiping device while she was riding in a streetcar one rainy day in New York City. Observing how the driver could hardly see where he was going because of the heavy rain covering the vehicle’s windshield, and how the only way to clear it up was by opening a window and sticking his head out, Anderson began to think of a more effective way to rid the windshield of debris, without exposing the car’s driver and its passengers to the outside elements. Her first working prototype consisted of wiper arms made of rubber and wood. It worked through the use of a lever which when pulled by the driver, dragged the arms from one side of the windshield to the other, clearing all debris as it moved.
Simple but effective, Anderson tried to sell her windshield wiper idea, but was sadly unsuccessful. 13 years after she received a patent for her invention, windshield wipers became a standard feature of American cars. Not only did Mary Anderson make a fortune from this development. More importantly, countless lives have been saved and will continue to be saved as a result of her invention which is an indispensable safety feature that is most needed during inclement weather conditions.
Born on January 2, 1886 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada to vaudeville actress Charlotte Bridgwood (a.k.a. Lotta Lawrence) and carriage maker George Bridgwood, Florence Lawrence (original name: Florence Annie Bridgwood) is acknowledged as the creator of the first signal turn indicator, as well as the first mechanical brake signal.
An actress by profession and widely acknowledged as “the first movie star”, Florence regards herself as an automobile enthusiast, believing that cars are like humans who respond better to understanding and proper care. And because she loved cars so much, she invested time in trying to learn everything she can about how a vehicle operates and what improvements can be made, especially in terms of safety and practicality.
In 1914, she invented the first automobile turn signal and brake signal. Referred to as the “auto signaling arm”, it consisted of an arm that was placed on the back of the car, and a pair of buttons placed near the driver’s seat. By pushing the appropriate button, the arm will either go up or down to indicate whether the driver is turning left or right. And when the brake is stepped on, a small sign with the word “stop” painted on it will pop up in the back of the car.
Important innovations as these signals were, Lawrence was unable to patent her creation. Thus, she did not reap any benefit from it. Except maybe for the knowledge that she was able to do something concrete to help make automobiles safer. And for her, maybe that’s compensation enough.
Big Sky Collision Center Fixes Cars
Imagine all the business we would be getting if the windshield wiper and the brake lights were never invented. Of course it would mean a hefty price too. Countless lives would be lost. Let’s be thankful that these two amazing women stepped up into leadership roles when it wasn’t common for them to be in such roles.
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