Forty-five years ago in December, the silent film star
Florence Lawrence took her own life in Hollywood. What does that have to do with traffic
tickets in Kern County? When she was not gracing the silver screen, Ms.
Lawrence was an inventor. She developed the forerunners of brake lights
and turn signals.
In 1910, Ms. Lawrence became the first actress whose name appeared in movie
credits. Before then, actors and actresses were identified with their
studio. Due to her success, she was able to buy a car, which was considered
an ostentatious luxury at the time. By 1914, Ms. Lawrence had developed
a mechanical arm that raised a flag on a car's rear bumper to indicate
turning direction, and a "STOP" sign that flipped up when the
driver applied the brakes.
The actress had a hard life. Her first two husbands died tragically, she
was divorced from her third husband after less than a year, she sustained
disfiguring burns in an accident and she battled a rare and painful bone
marrow disease. Florence Lawrence poisoned herself in her Beverly Hills
home in 1938. She was 52 years old.
Safety Devices on Automobiles
Ms. Lawrence did not patent her inventions, so she received no formal credit
and no money. Brake lights and turn signals, along with seat belts, rear-
and side-view mirrors, headlights, parking lights and other items, have
been standard equipment for years. It may not be long before radar sensors,
GPS monitors and other electronic driving aids are required as well.
If you received a ticket because of faulty safety equipment, or because
your tags were expired, contact an attorney practicing in Lamont and Shafter
right away to find out what legal options you may have.