Recently at the Edmunds Safety Conference in Washington D.C., the president of the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety highlighted 50 years of progress and discussed how to reduce injuries and deaths from motor vehicle crashes. In 1961, the motor vehicle crash death rate was almost 50 deaths per billion miles traveled on public roads. In 1966, it reached an all-time high of 55 deaths per billion miles. Slowly, the death rate has dropped. In 2009, it was just more than 11 deaths per billion miles traveled,
In 1966, Congress created the National Highway Safety Bureau, which now is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The first federal motor vehicle safety standards were issued in 1967 and 1968. Fuel tank integrity requirements were developed and they have been upgraded since in 1976 and again in 2003. In 1971, roof strength requirements were established and later in 2009 they were upgraded significantly.
NHTSA in 1978 made available to the public vehicle safety test information. Testing began with full-frontal crashes and has progressed to side impact crashes in 1997 and just recently to a side-pole test. The mid-1980s saw more states enact seat belt laws, which increased seat belt use.
Also during this time, organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving brought public awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving, and laws were enacted to punish those driving while intoxicated.
In 1986, automatic protection was required for unbelted occupantsm which led to the introduction of frontal airbags. In 1990, side impact protection was upgraded and was included in crash testing. Laws began in the mid-1990s for graduated licensing, which has reduced the fatal crash rate for passenger vehicle drivers ages 16-18.
Other factors have contributed to fewer fatalities on our roadways, including more congested roads leading to lower driving speeds, safer road designs and less people on the roads due to the poor economy.
Technology such as forward collision warning, turn-by-turn navigation, lane-keeping and side-view assistance and adaptive headlamps exist on vehicles already. More than 10,000 fatal crashes and nearly 2 million crashes might not have happened if vehicles were equipped with lane departure warning, forward collision warning, side view assist and adaptive headlamps, estimates IIHS.
DADDS, an alcohol detection system could prevent drivers who are above the legal limit from operating their vehicles. IIHS estimates that in 2009, 7,400 crash deaths might have been avoided if no vehicle could have been operated by a driver who was over the legal limit of .08.
As part of the IIHS 50th anniversary celebration in 2009, they conducted a head-on crash test at 40 mph between 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu. Many thought the beefier Bel Air would destroy the Malibu, but it didn’t. The passenger compartment of the Bel Air collapse, and the crash dummy was impaled by the steering wheel. The Malibu’s crash dummy was unharmed, and the front end absorbed the impact, leaving the passenger compartment intact.
Technology is the wave of the future, but safer driving behaviors can ultimately make the difference in passenger and driver safety. Drivers should do their part by practicing safe driving behaviors but be reminded negligent drivers can be held accountable for their actions. Contact an experienced car accident attorney if you are the victim of a distracted driving or other car-related accident.
The car accident lawyers at Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez, LLC represent victims and their families in Margate, Miami, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, call 1-800-561-7777 today for a free consultation to discuss your rights.
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