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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.

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