National Museum of American History Acquires Jaws of Life

Auto-safety innovations and initiatives, including the “Jaws of Life,” will join the National Museum of American History’s permanent research collections. They illustrate the evolution of automobile safety and represent technological achievements such as portable rescue devices and repositioned fuel tanks, as well as public-awareness and driver-safety campaigns.

The recent acquisitions include a 1977 Hurst Power Rescue Tool, developed by Mike Brick and popularly nicknamed “The Jaws of Life,” from the Carlsbad Fire Department in New Mexico; a 1983 license plate reading, “I AM MADD,” originally belonging to Candace Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving; personal effects of her daughter Cari, whose death in a drunk-driving tragedy led to the founding of MADD; an original highway memorial sign donated by the Eddy County DWI Program in New Mexico; and a model of a 1971-1973 Ford Pinto, which was color-coded by auto-safety expert Byron Bloch to show prosecutors the unsafe location of fuel tanks near the rear bumper during the historic “reckless homicide” trial in Winamac, Ind., held in 1980.

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