Silent-film star Florence Lawrence was in almost 300 films throughout her career. She made so much from it that she could buy her own automobile, which was rare for women back in the early 20th century! Having developed a passion for the world of automobile, she decided to explore safety measures for vehicles.
After years of experimentation, Lawrence invented the first mechanical turn signal and mechanical brake signal in 1914. By pushing a button, the “auto-signalling arms” would raise and lower a flag on the rear bumper to let people know which way the car would turn. Hitting the brakes would also cause a small sign labelled “stop” to pop up and warn people that the car would come to a stop.
Sadly, she did not patent her inventions. Although these devices have become essential to everyday road safety, not many associate her with them. Some bigger companies even tried to take credit for her contribution.