World's First Automobile Accident

From Ohio History Central
Lambert Photo.jpg
Portrait of John W. Lambert and view of Lambert and two passengers posing in a Lambert car. Handwritten on front: "J.W. Lambert, 1909. Buckeye Mfg. Co. J.H. [undecipherable], 1908. J.H.C. in Lambert friction drive en route to Bay City. 30 + 3 clincher tires. Removable toneau [sic]." Handwritten on back: "Lambert, John W."

The world's first automobile accident occurred in Ohio City, Ohio in 1891.

Throughout most of the twentieth century, the city of Detroit, Michigan, was synonymous with American automobile manufacturing. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, that was not the case. Instead, Ohio innovators in Cleveland and elsewhere were at the forefront of this new form of transportation technology.

Because of Ohio's important role in the early automobile industry, the state was the site of numerous firsts in automobile history. Among these firsts was the first automobile accident. In 1891, James William Lambert was involved in the first automobile accident in American history. The accident occurred in Ohio City, Ohio. Lambert's vehicle, the first single-cylinder gasoline automobile, which was carrying Lambert and James Swoveland, hit a tree root, causing the car to careen out of control and smash into a hitching post. Injuries from this accident were minor. Lambert proceeded to patent over six hundred inventions, mostly affiliated with the automobile industry.

See Also


  1. Bailey, L. Scott. "1891 Lambert a New Claim for America's First Gasoline Automobile." Antique Automobile 24.5 (1960): 340-400.