The first steam powered vehicle was built by the French military engineer, Nicholas Cugnot in 1769. This 3-wheeled steam machine ran for only 15 minutes and at the end of that short space of time, Cugnot became the world’s first car crash victim. Unfortunately he drove the vehicle into a brick wall.
Cugnot was however not badly hurt and not at all disheartened. He worked on the vehicle, improved the steering and the braking system until it was capable of carrying four people at two miles an hour. He won a contract from the French War Ministry to build a much larger vehicle as a military carrier.
But Cugnot’s road tests of his vehicle proved so dangerous to life and limb that, after several further crashes, he became the first man to be jailed for dangerous driving.
His military vehicle was never put into service, and in 1804 he died in obscurity.