A study by Kelley Blue Book shows that Americans are still wary of driverless technology, and prefer to drive themselves. Some wonder if this attitude can slow the development of driverless technology.
Tens of thousands of Americans die in car and truck accidents every year. These accidents take an unbelievable toll on individuals, families and the nation as a whole. The financial impact of all these traffic accidents is measured in the billions, not millions. The head of the National Transportation Safety Board believes the self-driving cars could play a significant role in preventing this catastrophic loss of life.
The last two years have seen motor vehicles recalled in record numbers. In 2015 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled more than 50 million vehicles. A recent review of auto recalls conducted by J.D. Power shows that many defective cars and trucks have not received the repairs covered under the recall. Of the vehicles recalled from 2013 to 2015, 45 million have not been repaired. Those vehicles are exposing their owners and others to unnecessary risk of injury or death.
Car crashes take an unbelievable toll on humanity. In the U.S., a good safety year still sees more than 30,000 people killed in motor vehicle accidents. Worldwide, the number is closer to one million. One million people die in traffic accidents each year and the vast majority of those accidents are caused by human error. While it is far from clear that any of the driverless cars being tested by Google and other companies could do better, it is clear that humans leave something to be desired when it comes to safe driving. A new proposal from the California Department of Motor Vehicles could seriously delay the effort to see if driverless cars could improve the situation.
In the United States, the rate of fatalities caused by traffic accidents has steadily decreased in recent years. The Fatal Analysis Reporting System is the tool used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to better understand deadly crashes. According to FARS data, 2014 was perhaps the safest year on record for American drivers. The fatality rate of 1.07 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was the lowest ever recorded. Unfortunately, the preliminary numbers for 2015 are not as promising.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently conducted a forum on the problem of drowsy driving. The forum, entitled Asleep at the Wheel, was part of National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. It included discussions over the breadth of the problem and potential methods of addressing drowsy driving.
Wearing a seat belt is one of the best things you can do to improve your chances of surviving a car accident. Seat belts save lives. That has been proven time and again in studies going back decades. So why is it that children riding school buses are often exempt from seat belt requirements? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has long held the stance that large school buses should not be required to have seat belts. New Jersey is one of six states that ignored the NHTSA position and made seat belts on school buses mandatory. The NHTSA has now altered its position and will push to make sure that children on all types of school bus have a three-point seat belt to keep them secure.
The scandal concerning Volkswagen and its not so clean diesel technology is a safety issue on a broad scale. The pollution poured into the atmosphere because of Volkswagen's malfeasance is a real threat in many ways. It does not, however, have a direct connection to car crashes that we know of. The issue does raise a number of concerns about auto safety, however. If a company like Volkswagen is willing to engage in cheating on this scale, risking billion of dollars of fines and damage to their brand (not to mention to the environment), it is safe to wonder how far they might go to cover up deadly auto defects.
The majority of parents of teenagers list car crashes as their top safety concern. Teen drivers have a well-earned reputation for dangerous driving. One of the ways to combat the problems of teen drivers is to introduce them more slowly to the experience of driving. Graduated Driver Licensing programs, such as the one in New Jersey, help teens gain the experience they need before confronting them with all of the pressures that driving can include. By giving teens a partial right to drive, GDL programs have helped reduce teen accident rates. Unfortunately, many parents do not understand the GDL restrictions and so do not help their teen drivers get the most out of the program.
For some people, safety is the top concern when choosing a car. For most, safety is one concern among many. Cost, convenience, even style might all rank ahead of the safety features of a vehicle, depending on your preferences. Wherever safety falls on your list of priorities, you should, at least, understand the ways your car can help make your driving experience safer. Toward that end, the National Safety Council recently launched a new web site designed to help drivers understand important features of their vehicles. At mycardoeswhat.org, drivers can learn about passive and active safety technology present in their vehicles.