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Heads Off to Vince and Larry!

Two crash “dummies” made U.S. drivers smart about seat belts.

by on Jul.14, 2010

Vince and Larry "crashing the party" at the Smithsonian Museum.

The original Vince and Larry crash test dummy costumes were donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History today.

These anthropomorphic test devices arguably had the greatest “impact” on auto safety in the U.S. than any other effort. They, without question,  remain two of the most effective public safety ambassadors in automotive history. (Click here for a vintage Vince and Larry performance)

From 1985 until 1988, these “dummies” promoted seat belt use in countless public service announcements and posters. It worked. During that time, public opinion about seat belt use reversed itself, and therefore thousands of lives have been saved. We will never know exactly how many.

Lighthearted yet Serious!

What we do know is that while in 1968, every new car in America came equipped with seat belts, only 10% of motorists used them. Today, we are up to a record high of 84%.

Thanks to Vince and Larry and the outreach program of The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the volunteer work of  the Leo Burnett ad agency -  people are buckling up.


GM, Volvo Safety Advances Donated to Smithsonian National Museum of American History

GM’s crash dummy and Volvo's three-point safety belt added to the collection along with other significant auto safety artifacts.

by on Jul.14, 2010

A peaceful retirement in the Smithsonian after a violent life that saved untold lives.

Both General Motors and Volvo were honored today at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, as it accepts these two important safety items as part of a larger collection of artifacts from eight different donors.

In a special donation ceremony this morning, the museum received items related to more than 75 years of auto safety and materials pertaining to safety initiatives administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The event also marks the 25th anniversary of the “Vince and Larry” ads sponsored by NHTSA and the Ad Council.

Three point safety belt and seat from a 1961 Volvo PV 544.

The Smithsonian now has more than three million items in its collection and has about four million visitors a year.

GM donated 50H-1, an Anthropomorphic Test Device, or ATD – scientific jargon for what the world knows as a crash test dummy.

“GM’s leading role in the development of crash test devices over the decades makes it fitting that one of our crash veterans become part of the Smithsonian’s collections,” said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Safety Policy.

“With all that we have learned from him over the years, it almost seems unfair to call 50H-1 a dummy,” said Robinson, as he refuted my description.

Though not as vocal as the famous Vince and Larry “dummies” of NHTSA advertising fame, the taciturn 50H-1 is significant because “he” represents the dummy, err ATD, most used in U.S. automotive crash testing. His title refers to the Hybrid III ATD, representing a typical male adult in the 50th percentile for height and weight.