Back in the 1950's cars weren't made with crumple zones. Cars were made with very simple, straight sheets of steel that weren't made to bend when they crash. So in certain situations ,like fender benders, these cars are great because the fenders won't bend and will break parts on the other car. However if someone smashes into a telephone pole the car won't provide a great enough impulse for a good chance of survival. In the 1970's the growing concern for car safety led to car companies creating cars with what are known as "crumple zones." These are areas made to bend so if a car smashes into a telephone pole the time a person has to experience the massive force is a few fractions of a second greater than before. This may not seem like a lot of time but such a massive force being extended just a little bit longer will have a huge impact and possibly a chance of survival in a massive collision. The acceleration the driver or passenger in the car experiences is significantly smaller. This is also a reason that seatbelts are required. A hard collision at a high-speed in a car without a seatbelt will cause such a massive acceleration to the driver that he/she will fly into (or possibly through) the windshield. Physics helped make cars significantly safer over the past 50 years.