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When you and your loved ones get into your vehicle, you can relax in knowing that safety feature improvements have made a huge difference in saving lives on American roadways in the past 20 years.
Innovations Designed to Prevent Deadly Crashes
Most people think of seat belts as the most remarkable safety innovation in automobiles for prevention of deadly crashes. But following safety belts came airbags, durable occupant safety cages, roll bars and crumple zones. These each provided great strength to vehicles and enhanced survivability for passengers during accidents. Automakers of today are looking at new ways to make driving even safer. So the next years should be exciting, when watching what carmakers come up with for greater survivability in new auto models.
Five of the most noteworthy car safety systems of recent years include:
- Ford Blind Spot Info System with Cross-Traffic Alert
This Ford-designed system employs two radar beam modules for blind spot awareness and other vehicle detection. These radars help drivers avoid deadly crashes often caused when changing lanes or encroaching upon unseen vehicles in the blind spots of the car being driven. Drivers are alerted of risk through an indicator light so they can correct their actions to prevent accident.
- Volvo City Safety
Volvo’s system innovation prevents deadly crashes using automatic braking. Although this is a low-speed device that stops the vehicle when it is only traveling at city speeds of two to 19 miles per hour, such as in parking lots or urban roadways, this braking system can prevent pedestrian, bicyclist and other fatalities.
- Collision Mitigation by Honda
Honda’s grille housed sensor monitors distance of traffic ahead and the driven vehicle’s own speed. By doing this, it is able to alert risk of crash with vehicles in the distance. The system flashes a warning light, tugs at the driver’s seat belt and even starts braking on its own to reduce the risk of deadly crashes.
- Lane Assist by Audi
An audible signal alerts drivers of new Audis to make them aware that they are swerving out of their own lane. This system does not stop the car or otherwise intervene. But it does cause the steering wheel to vibrate to ensure the driver is immediately aware of vehicle path changes, while corrections can still be made to prevent deadly crashes. This innovation is extremely useful for drowsy drivers who can be awakened by the steering wheel vibrations.
- Mercedes Night View Assist PLUS
Mercedes-Benz technology alerts drivers that animals or pedestrians are in or too near the roadway ahead, using forward facing infrared cameras. While the driver is alerted through high resolution displays on the instrument panel, the people or animals are also alerted through automated light flashing from the vehicle’s headlights.
Each of these innovations increase safety to prevent deadly auto accidents. But driver error, negative behaviors and distracted driving are still problems despite technological improvements.
Despite Automotive Innovations, Deadly Crashes Are Rising
2015 brought continuing increases in the number of motor vehicle deaths, despite changes to automotive technology. The National Safety Council had already noted a 14 percent increase in deadly crashes for the first six months of that year. That was over 18,000 fatalities with 30 percent more non-fatal injuries also occurring than in 2014.
A well-known Phoenix car accident attorney, voiced his concern over this trend. He said, “It is devastating to see that drivers continue to increasingly contribute to deadly crashes, despite so many safety innovations by automakers and awareness campaigns urging drivers to be more aware and safer when behind the wheel.”
The National Safety Council attributes the increase in fatalities to higher numbers of people on the road. Those increases in auto travel can be credited to lower gas prices and economic improvements, two factors enabling people to drive for leisure more often and for longer distances.
The attorney also said, “The auto industry has been struggling to overcome recalls and negative reports regarding vehicle safety. Safety features continue to advance in many ways, but deadly crashes are still a major problem in our society.”
Government officials are working to influence automakers to make many luxury safety innovations, such as automatic braking and features seen on brands such as Volvo, Audi and Mercedes, standard for less expensive brands and models. Safety should not be limited to those who can afford luxury.
Safety Innovations are No Match for Human Negligence
Despite safety innovations, one of the biggest problems causing deadly crashes is human error. Such error is often in the form of negative driving behaviors, also known as negligence. Surveys indicate 75 percent of drivers still use their cell phone while driving, despite knowing this activity behind the wheel is very deadly. 60 percent of drivers admit texting while driving.