Where and when did the first accident happen?

OFor some reason, the first traffic accident is usually referred to either as an accident in New York in 1896 or an accident in Paris in 1771. But it is not clear who and why decided so.

New York and Paris versions of the first accident

AT New York case In 1896, it is said that a motorist collided with a cyclist, as a result of which the latter received a serious injury to his leg.

In the event that happened in Paris in 1771, a driver lost control while trying to avoid a collision with children and drove into a wall. As a result of the accident, the boiler of the car exploded, but no one was injured.

However, for some reason, a serious accident that occurred earlier than Paris and New York in the 30s of the same century is not mentioned.

John Scott Russell and his steam wagons

In the early 30s of the 19th century, a Scottish civil engineer, founder of the Scottish Steam Carriage Company John Scott Russell designed and built 6 steam-powered cars.

Russell's "steam carts" were acclaimed for being well cushioned and of high standard equipment.

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John Scott Russell
In the photo of Robert Howlett, first from the left is John Scott Russell

Russell's cars reached speeds of up to 15 miles per hour, and the two-cylinder steam engine had 24 horsepower.

In the spring of 1834, six cars ran like minibuses between one of the squares in the city of Glasgow and a famous hotel in Paisley in Scotland.

Problems, the first accident and a sad ending

Representatives of the local highways department stated that Russell's cars damaged and spoiled the roads. In addition to statements, they began to physically oppose the movement of self-propelled carriages - they threw large stones on the road and even felled trees.

Russell's Steam Wagon
Russell's Steam Wagon - The Mechanics' Magazine 02/28/1835

In the end, the success of Russell's company was short-lived. In July 1834 one of his cars, following the usual route, ran into a pile of stones and rolled over.

As a result of this accident, the steam boiler exploded, which led to the death of several passengers. Some time after this incident, Russell's car company closed. Although Russell was not at fault for the accident, people began to be prejudiced against his technique.

Russell himself died in 1882, and in 2019 his name was permanently inscribed in the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.

By the way… Perhaps this accident does not have absolute primacy, although it was really serious.

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