By the 1950s, it was clear that automobile accidents were inevitable despite improvements in car design, driver education, highways, and law enforcement. The quest to minimize injuries and fatalities occupied the attention of physicians and biomechanics specialists at universities. Cornell, UCLA, Wayne State, and other universities conducted crash tests to pinpoint the causes and effects of bodily impact inside a car.
An important recommendation emerged from these programs: seat belts, padded dashboards, and stronger door latches were urgently needed. Crash tests proved that it was safer to be fastened inside a car than thrown out during a collision. Packaging the passenger became a revolutionary new concept.
Newspaper and magazine articles about crash tests and seat belts stirred public interest. A 1955 Gallup poll showed that Americans approved of seat belts by a margin of 50% to 38%. Automobile manufacturers experimented with optional seat belts and padded dashboards in the mid-1950s.