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The Laws Of Physics Are No Respecter Of Persons Or Pocketbooks

The theme song of the 1980s TV show Fame implied that fame would make you live forever. Unfortunately, some celebrities (but not all) seem to have taken that a bit too literally and seem to neglect a number of basic safety precautions when it comes to driving and motoring. The years of the motorcar have seen a number of high-profile fatalities courtesy of a motor vehicle. Here’s a selection, plus how they could have been prevented:

Isadora Duncan: This dancer shocked the stuffy Victorian and Edwardians with her innovative dance style that broke the classical ballet mould as well as corset strings, but died as flamboyantly as she lived when her long, trailing scarf wrapped itself around the back wheels of the Bugatti driven by her car salesman boyfriend and strangled her. This particular type of road fatality is not so likely today, but if you do drive in an open top car, just make sure you take off any really long scarves or at least tuck them in, even if they do look glamorous flowing behind you as speed.

Lawrence of Arabia: He was off his camel leading Arab revolutionaries against the Turks and on a motorbike in England. He courteously swerved to avoid two kids on bikes and lost control, pitching over the handlebars. He died nearly a week later from the head injuries he sustained. As a result of his death, one of the brain surgeons who tended this war hero started a campaign that saw the introduction of a very important safety device: the motorbike helmet.

James Dean: The “Rebel Without A Cause” liked fast cars. As well as acting, he also like to race cars, preferably Porsches. And he got himself one of the limited edition 550 Spyders, which he nicknamed the “Little Bastard”.  Fellow actor Alec Guinness, on being shown the brand new toy by James Dean, took one look and said Dean would be seen dead within the week if he started driving that vehicle. Guinness probably didn’t have second sight, but he knew James Dean’s reputation for fast driving. A week later, Dean was dead, having gone into an intersection and being T-boned by another driver who didn’t see him. Dean had been given a speeding ticket a couple of hours before the crash, and it is possible that he was speeding during the crash. This sort of crash can be avoided by watching your speed and watching out for other drivers. The crash would probably not have been fatal with a modern car with side impact beams and airbags – Dean was killed by bashing his head on the dashboard. Legends have surfaced about the car being cursed and having caused a number of fatalities after Dean’s death (all unverified).  

Diana, Princess of Wales:  Unless you are into conspiracy theories, the official inquest found that she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and the driver of the Mercedes S280 was drunk in charge of a very powerful car and driving at high speed.  Do we need to say any more?