2017 Crash Deaths
March 22, 2018
Driving in the United States can be risky business. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that over 40,000 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in 2017, which is a six percent increase from the amount reported in 2015. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will put the official federal totals out later this year, but the preliminary estimates by the NSC indicate that traffic safety is a top priority.
As the death toll rises, automakers have continued to respond to the crisis with advanced safety features on new car models. Strategically placed air bags, forward collision warning systems, autobrakes, lane departure warnings and prevention features, adaptive headlights, and blind-spot detection technology are just some of the innovative safety enhancements being offered as standard equipment on new vehicles.
Despite the inclusion of these safety features, fatal accidents continue to rise. Driver error and driver negligence are not something automakers can correct. Distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, and failure to utilize seat belts remain the top causes of car accident injuries and fatalities. As a result of aggressive educational and public awareness campaigns, fatalities caused by distracted driving fell two percent in 2017. That’s good news, but the NHTSA reported that 3,450 people were still fatally injured in distracted driving accidents in 2016.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently conducted a study through the University of Utah on the distractibility of 30 different onboard infotainment systems available on automobiles. These systems include GPS and directional programs, music, and Bluetooth phones that are accessible through touch screen and voice activation. Researchers concluded that all 30 of these infotainment systems caused driver distraction on a level of moderate to very high. While touch screen and voice-activated systems are meant to prevent driver distraction, their operation still requires a dangerous level of driver focus.
Safety advocates at the NSC and the NHTSA have high hopes that automated cars will help reduce the annual number of fatal car accidents, but full implementation of these cars is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Studies are being conducted across the country using automated vehicles, but there are many issues to be worked through before they become a reality. Ironically, the number one safety issue arising with self-driving vehicles relates to human distraction. Drivers appear to rely too much on the technology of the automated cars and are unready to respond when intervention is necessary.
The National Safety Council is committed to improving traffic safety and is working to reduce the number of traffic deaths each year to zero. Educating the public on the dangers of cell phone use and distracted driving will be the main strategies used to reach its goal. While zero fatalities may seem to be a lofty ambition, they believe an aggressive driver education initiative and continued development of innovative collision avoidance systems will make this goal possible.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Represent Victims Injured in Car Accidents
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