Friday, September 25, 2009

From the Obituary Files

Dusty D was working on obits again today in the Archives. This one is for Mr. & Mrs. David F. Johnson.

In many old obit photos of car crashes, the level of damage to the car is alarming. In this photo of what appears to have been a four-door sedan, the entire front half of the car is utterly destroyed.

The only consoling thought is that likely the couple did not suffer.

This story dates from 1970, when seat belt usage was rare. Here's an interesting paragraph on the subject from the Harvard School of Public Health:

"The big jump in U.S. seat belt use came between 1984 and 1992, when usage rates went from 14% to 62%. In 1984 the U.S. Secretary of Transportation ruled that passive restraints (e.g. air bags) would not be required in motor vehicles if more than 2/3 of the nation's population resided in states with mandatory seat belt laws (meeting five specific criteria). The auto industry, which had long fought passive restraint requirements for their vehicles, immediately began a massive lobbying campaign to enact state seat belt laws, forming a new organization, Traffic Safety Now, to spearhead the effort. While no state had a seat belt law in 1983, by the time Traffic Safety Now closed its doors in 1992, 42 states had enacted seat belt laws. In a ironic twist for the auto companies, but of great benefit for safety, it was ruled that many of the state laws did not satisfy the criteria in the regulation, and the U.S. ended up with both state seat belt laws AND automobile air bags."

Luckily belts, air bags, and built-in crumple zones are now standard and used, so that there are fewer accidents as awful as this one.


BF said...

Ok... so when was the current M-14 built, and what is the 1970 M-14 that they mention in the article? I had thought that the current M-14 was built in the mid '70's.

And where would Plymouth road and (the then) M-14 have intersected, so as to have a stop sign to run? Currently, the two run parallel to each other, east of US-23.

Edward Vielmetti said...

The Michigan Highways site has a detailed history of every road in the state. Here's the relevant section for M-14:

1956 - The third incarnation of M-14 is created in mid-1956 when US-12 between Ann Arbor and Detroit is rerouted to the south. The new M-14 begins just west of Ann Arbor at the new US-12 & Jackson Ave interchange (today's I-94 Exit 172), runs through downtown Ann Arbor, then northeasterly past Dixboro, Plymouth and Livonia before ending at US-16 (cnr Plymouth Rd & Grand River Ave) in northwest Detroit.

1964 - A new freeway connecting M-14 with US-23 northeast of Ann Arbor and the jct of M-14 & M-153 opens. M-14 is routed westerly along this new freeway, then westerly along US-23 across the north side of Ann Arbor, then southerly along BUS US-23 to pick up its old route in downtown Ann Arbor. The former route of M-14 along Plymouth Rd and Beakes St is turned back to local control.

1965 - A new segment of the M-14 freeway opens at Ann Arbor between I-94 at present-day Exit 171 and BUS US-23/Main St (present-day Exit 3). The former route along BL I-94/Huron St and BUS US-23/Main St retains those designations.

1977 - With the completion of the final segment of the I-96/Jeffries Frwy in Detroit and Livonia between M-39/Southfield Frwy and I-275, M-14 is scaled back to end at I-275, shortening the route by more than 14 miles. The former routing of M-14 within the City of Detroit—from the western city limit to Grand River Ave—is turned back to city control. The remainder of the former M-14 between the Detroit city limit and I-275 is retained in the state highway system as an unsigned trunkline.

1979 - The final segment of the M-14 freeway opens between the current end of the freeway at M-153 northeast of Ann Arbor and the I-96/I-275 interchange near Plymouth. The former route of M-14 along Plymouth Rd in Washtenaw Co is turned back to local control, while the portion between the Washtenaw/Wayne Co line and I-275 in Wayne Co is retained as an unsigned state trunkline.

Dusty D said...

Ed: My goodness--I'm gonna hafta offer you a spot on the Dusty Diary payroll.

Unfortunately the only payment consists of dried apples (from Wasem's!--good stuff!) and scratch paper already printed on one side, so I doubt that's terribly alluring.

In other words, thank you. :)

BF said...


Thanks for the link and the info!


Lisele said...

Oh, did you dry apples? I was thinking of doing that this year...

Dusty D said...

Lisele: Yep, picked a bushel at Wasem's (pumpkin doughnuts!) and sliced 'em on my mandoline and dried 'em in several big batches. Great on oatmeal or for a nibble or in lunches; stored in my pantry in quart canning jars at present. Planning on going back to Wasem's and doing another round...can't have too many dried apples and I already gave away 2 jars as gifts.