Have you heard of Suicide Doors?
We can’t control accidents, but we can educate and minimize them. Join us in spreading awareness.
This accident should never have happened. The defective reverse door design in the 1949 Mercury automobile, affecctionately named (SUICIDE DOORS) was manufactured with no child locks or seatbelts. This defective design remained the same as the last car of its type rolled off the assembly line in 1967. That was 15 years after my accident in 1952.
There was no technology or statistics to document these horrible events so they went unnoticed and were listed as general auto accidents.
So why tell this story now about an accident that happened 70 years ago?
As I write this I am 73 years old and have struggled with the emotional effects from this incident since July 5, 1952. Just because you physically survive a horrific accident does not make you whole. I grew up not realizing something was wrong and believed what I experienced was normal. As I look back, the 1950s was a strange decade where every kid had a bicycle and no one wore a helmet. Many people smoked cigarettes and the TV commercials promoted smoking as pleasant, cool, and mild. Check out Youtube “Cigarette ads from the 1950’s” Even Fred Flintstone promoted smoking and a brand of cigarettes.
Why tell this story 70 years after the accident? At 73 and retired I have the time and I’m slowing down as expected with age. I also can no longer avoid the memories of the incident that formed my inner being and the way I think about and approach life..
As I write this, I find it odd to talk about myself. Under the circumstances, I managed to carve out a life and worked various jobs to make a living. I started playing guitar at 14 and while not a professional, I continue to be a student of this instrument. Music has been an ongoing asset that was conducive to meeting other musicians and getting involved in social situations.
I also worked in a family startup business that allowed me to contribute in a way that no other job could. Only people that I love and respect know and understand the creativity and hard work it took at the ground level to produce the products that helped make this business viable. Sadly, other people that have a sense of entitlement will never appreciate or acknowledge the time and effort involved in this venture.
I am a graduate of Diman Vocational High School in Fall River, MA. Proudly, I was inducted into the Diman Hall of Fame in 2008. I graduated in 1967.
The Forever Paws Animal Shelter in Fall River, MA, and the Brain Injury Association of America are the organizations I support. Forever Paws is a non-kill animal shelter that takes in unwanted animals, cares for and finds people to adopt these pets. The staff are mostly volunteers that love and nurture these animals while they await permanent homes.
The Brain Injury Association of America is an organization that offers support for people with head injuries. I encourage you to go to BIAA.org to view the website and learn how this organization helps people with head injury issues.
Head injuries can be subtle, unrecognized and underdiagnosed. Only in the last 20 years has there been an effort to make people aware of head injury issues.
This website and podcast to follow will discuss the events of this horrible accident in sections:
• The day this accident happened July 5th, 1952.
• How this accident happened
• Who was responsible for this horrific event
• Why nothing was done to prevent this from happening until 1967
From the Answer Man Article ROGER SCHLUETER 2015:
Whatever designer first decided to put them onto cars may have had the artistic half of his brain working overtime while the reasoning part remained in snooze mode. Think about it. Imagine trying to open a conventional front doors while you’re going 70 mph. It’s going to be increasingly difficult because of a simple fact of physics: air pressure. The farther you open the door as you’re sailing down the highway, the more air is going to hit the door, forcing it back. Hopefully, the end result is that it never opens far enough for you to fall out. Now, imagine that you accidentally unlatch a door that opens the other way. Instead of working to keep the door shut, the road wind serves as an accelerator, helping to fling the door open and maybe you with it as you grab for the handle in a panic to close it. To add insult to injury, you’ll likely be whopped by the door as you fall out.
From an Article in the New York Times 2003:
Exactly how and when suicide doors acquired their tragically frightful name is unknown but the logic is apparent to Kit Foster, a past president of the Society of Automotive Historians. “I think it’s obvious,” Mr. Foster said. “If the latch is opened, the door gets ripped open by the air flow.”
What happened next hardly needs to be said out loud. In the era before seat belts, if the passenger was leaning against the door, out he went.
“Suicide doors’ resurrected by car designers despite safety concerns”
By Martin Zimmerman. LA Times Staff Writer
Sept. 15 2007 12 AM PT
Automakers have once again gotten the message about “Suicide Doors” though you’re not likely to see that phrase in any advertising campaigns.
“They were called suicide doors for a reason,” said Dick Messer, director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. “Riding in one of those cars was considered suicidal because they were made in the era before seat belts.”
The thinking was that a reverse-hinged door, if accidentally opened in a moving car, would be flung wide by the road wind, making it easier for a passenger to fall out.
In any case, it’s doubtful that such concerns have been much of a factor in the showroom, said Karl Brauer, editor in chief at Santa Monica-based Edmunds.com.
“I think most consumers are completely oblivious to the supposed problems,” he said. “Too much time has passed.”
Pictures of Suicide Door Cars
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