Today when we think of car safety, we think about crash tests and airbags. This 1950s animation explains a different approach: data-driven infrastructure improvements for better drivers.

The idea of modern crumple zones and air bags and safety cells is based on a basic principle: drivers are a distracted, faulty, untrustworthy bunch and they are invariably going to crash into each other. Car safety should be focused on cocooning and protecting our nation of unpredictable idiots.

This older animation has a different approach: drivers won't crash into each other if only the roads are clear and free of confusion. This means complete and voluntary accident reporting, followed by improvements to intersections, interchanges, and signage based on all of that accident report data.

This approach seems more than a little idealistic, particularly in the scene when one driver fills out a complete form detailing his crash.

The infrastructure-based approach to car safety relies heavily on drivers being smart and attentive, and it certainly seems out of fashion in 2014. It's interesting to see how simple it all looked in the decades before NHTSA.