Today’s cars are more advanced than ever, constantly setting new standards of style, comfort, gas efficiency and technology. Several vehicle manufacturers now have their own versions of driver assistance and intelligence programs that are standard on new basic models. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of traffic fatalities in 2016 increased to 37,461 deaths, 6% higher than 2015. Could this mean that safer cars play a role in the increase of traffic related dangers?
Vehicle safety technology includes any programs or assistance systems that increase the safety of cars, their drivers and surrounding passengers. Prototypes of vehicle safety technology date back to the 1950’s but modern variations were widely introduced and released in the mid 2000’s. Many popular brands of cars have their own lines of vehicle safety technology, such as Honda Sensing Suite, Toyota Safety Sense, or Ford Pre-Collision Assist.
Common varieties of vehicle safety technology include blind spot monitoring, lane support systems, and warning and emergency braking systems. Blind spot monitoring screens points on the side of the vehicle to avoid collisions with other vehicles in surrounding lanes. Lane support systems, on the other hand, alert drivers if the vehicle unexpectedly veers from a lane or the road without prior indications, like using a turn signal. Warning and emergency braking systems help avoid collisions with sudden road obstacles by breaking individual wheels prior to contact with the obstacle in question, thus stabilizing the car. Despite all these technologies to improve driver safety, fatalities are still increasing. In a study conducted by CNN Money, it was revealed that the number of fatalities per mile has increased by 2.6%, making it the highest number since 2008.
In a report published by drivers.com, the leading cause of traffic fatalities in 2013 was distracted driving. According to the report, drivers who use hand-held devices while behind the wheel are four times more likely to be in an accident than those who pay attention to the road. Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that distracted driving was the cause of 3,477 deaths in 2015.
Other leading causes of traffic fatalities in the United States include speeding and drunk driving. An article published by curbed.com revealed that since 2015, traffic deaths have dramatically increased, with almost 30,000 speeding related deaths occurring in the first nine months of 2016 alone. In regards to drunk driving, activist group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) estimates that 300,000 drunk driving incidents occur on a daily basis. The same group reported that 28 people a day die from drunk driving crashes.
Out of all the aforementioned leading causes of traffic fatalities, one danger has seen a decline as recent as 2016. In the same study by CNN Money, fatalities linked to distracted driving lowered by 2.2%. This could be due to the hands-free features found in newer cars. This decrease may also be a result of the high volume of campaigns conducted by different activist groups and mobile carriers to raise awareness of distracted driving dangers.
While vehicle safety technology can lower the probability of being involved in a car accident, we as drivers have to face the reality. Today’s roads are dangerous and we constantly need to remain alert and focused when driving to avoid collisions, regardless of all the new safety and hands-free features our cars may provide for us. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury due to a distracted driver in a car accident, contact one of our attorneys at Schneider Hammers today.