Almanac: Crash test dummies

Almanac: Crash test dummies
Almanac: Crash test dummies 01:40

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: February 11th, 2005, 13 years ago today … the day physicist and engineer Samuel Alderson died at the age of 90.

Auto safety advocates honor Alderson to this day for developing the very first Anthropomorphic Test Device -- popularly known as "the crash dummy." He did it back in 1968.

Endowed with the dimensions, weight, and flexible joints of an actual human being, crash dummies have endured countless tests over the decades since, all to make travel safer for the rest of us.

Crash Test Without Safety Belts Buckled In The Back Seat by DPCcars on YouTube

Crash dummies really hit the big-time in the 1980s, with the debut of public service announcements starring "Vince" and "Larry," whose various automotive disasters helped "drive home" the advantages of buckling up.

Vince & Larry Crash "You Lost You Life" - 80's Ad Council PSA by AJOProductionsVideos on YouTube

Though Vince and Larry retired from the PSA circuit back in 1999, their costumes live on, as part of the collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

More importantly, the Crash Dummy PSA campaign is credited with increasing seat-belt use more than five-fold, saving some 85,000 lives.

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