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First Auto Fatality

September 13, 2014

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Profile America — Saturday, September 13th. When Henry Bliss stepped off a streetcar at Central Park West and 74th Street in New York, on this date in 1899, automobiles were a novelty. Thus, he didn't look carefully, and was run over by an almost silent electric taxi. The accident was the first fatality in the U.S. involving an automobile. At the time, there were fewer than 8,000 motor vehicles in the whole country. As the number of registered automobiles climbed rapidly, so did the number of deaths. In 1990, some 45,000 drivers, passengers and pedestrians were killed on the nation's highways. In recent years, the number has trended down to fewer than 31,000 fatalities as of 2011, even though the number of cars continues to increase. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <>.

Sources: Kane's Famous First Facts, 5470 #1104

Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, p. 716

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | Last Revised: August 28, 2014