Millions of human lives are lost every year through errors and accidents. Accidents take more lives than any cause other than cancer, heart disease and stroke. Alcohol is the leading cause of traffic accidents. And although accidents are sometimes caused by structural defects and unforeseen situations, the majority of accidents are caused by human error.
Errors are always with us. Although all accidents aren’t caused by human error, the human element is a factor in the majority of accidents. Alcohol is the leading reason for traffic fatalities. It dulls the brain leading the driver to err in judgment, so drinking and driving is the biggest error of all. The consequence of accidents are the leading cause of death among all persons between the ages of fifteen and thirty eight. Accidents claim more lives than all other causes combined according to the National Safety Council. Only cancer, strokes and heart disease kill more people overall than accidents. A few examples of firsts follow.
Apollo 16 SIM Bay Camera 245mm Direct Negative (Photo credit: jurvetson)
First U.S. Auto Fatality:
Henry H. Bliss, a 68 year old real estate broker, stepped off a trolley, turned to help a woman passenger, and was hit by a cab. Bliss became the first person to be killed by an auto accident in the U.S. It happened on September 14, 1899.
First Fatality of a Plane Crash in the U.S.:
It was September 17, 1908, five years after the first successful flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright. In that crash was none other than Orville Wright. He was accompanied by Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge of the U.S. Signal Corps. The Propeller broke and the plane plunged 150 feet. Selfridge was killed. Wright survived with multiple hip and leg fractures.
First Fatality in Space:
On April 23, 1967, from Tyura Tam USSR, aboard the Soyuz 1 Spacecraft, Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was the first person to die when on an eighteen hour orbit flight. His capsule was to return to earth suspended by parachutes, Komarov died when the straps of the parachutes broke and the capsule plummeted to earth.
The first fatality in the American space program occurred on January 27, 1967, when three astronauts were killed in a flash fire as they sat in their Apollo spacecraft during a routine ground test. An investigation found that “113 significant engineering orders” had not been correctly carried out in the construction of the Apollo Capsule. As a result the capsule was redesigned.
First Accident Insurance Policy in America:
The idea of insurance where people could insure themselves against suffering and lost wages caused by error came in 1860s. Travelers Insurance Company issued the first policy in 1864 to James Bolter of Hartford, Connecticut. He bought a $1,000 to cover him on his walk from his job at the post office to his home on Buckingham street. The cost of the premiums:2 cents.