|October 17th, 1902|
Here in Salem the phrase clearly comes from larger urban areas, and it really is associated with streetcars before automobile cars.* There does not seem to be a meaningful usage here in the 1890s or earlier, and it's only in the early 1900s that it appears regularly.
|August 5th, 1907|
|January 1st, 1910|
|September 30th, 1911|
There were also a high proportion of crashes involving streetcars, and some of the first traffic laws for automobiles regulated the passing of streetcars, especially when they were picking up or dropping off passengers.
About the same time, in what I believe is Salem's first automobile fatality, Mary Holman died a few days after a crash described as an "accident" in 1905. It involved mechanical failure, and it's not clear how responsible was husband John's driving, maintenance, or other decisions.
|"Accident": July 6th, 1905|
|More detail on "accident" |
July 7th, 1905
|July 11th, 1905|
We will keep circling around and revisiting this because the origins of our autoist mentality, and the more specific question of the rhetoric we use to describe crashes, are of such great interest.
*Probably there is research on this, but I don't know it. If you do, drop a citation in the comments please!