Are Cars Safer Today than 10 Years Ago?

For as long as cars have been on the road, safety experts have worked tirelessly to improve vehicle safety for drivers, passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists alike. From the development of the first self-starter in 1912 and laminated safety glass in the 1920s to the development of anti-lock braking systems in the 1960s and airbags in the 1990s, vehicle manufacturers have continuously worked to design and implement new safety features on vehicles.

As experienced North Carolina car accident lawyers understand, the past decade has brought forth countless significant advances designed to make vehicles safer for drivers. From back-up camera to help drivers back in and out of parking spaces to collision warning systems that automatically apply brakes to prevent accidents, technological advances have arguably afforded drivers the ability to avoid accidents like never before.

What are some of the most significant advances made in car safety technology over the past decade? Any potential list must include the following:

  • Side airbags to better protect drivers and passengers in the event of a side-impact collision between two or more vehicles.
  • GPS controls to help drivers safely and efficient plan their trips and prevent drivers from becoming lost in unfamiliar areas.
  • Back-up cameras to assist drivers in parallel parking and detecting hazards, such as pedestrians or bicyclists, when backing up.
  • Lane departure warnings which potentially prevent accidents involving fatigued or distracted drivers who veer across traffic lanes.
  • Night vision with pedestrian detection to prevent nighttime accidents involving cars and pedestrians or bicyclists on dimly lit roadways.
  • Collision warning with automatic braking to help prevent rear-end accidents involving one vehicle unable to stop before causing a collision.
  • Tire pressure monitoring to warn drivers when tires are low or flat, thus potentially preventing serious highway accidents.
  • Adaptive headlights controlling when high and low beams are activated.

However, in spite of these technological advances to prevent collisions and improve driver safety, car accidents continue to happen. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 1,289 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2013, or roughly 3 people every day. Furthermore, the cause of many of these fatal accidents remained the same – speed-related crashes claimed 413 lives while alcohol-related crashes claimed 371.

Compared to a decade ago, North Carolina follows a nationwide trend in declining car accident fatality rates. Fatalities throughout the state eclipsed 1,500 each year from 2004-2006 and peaked at 1,676 in 2007 before declining to under 1,300 in 2013, including decreases in alcohol and speeding-related fatalities. Motorcycle accident fatalities and pedestrian fatalities, however, increased between 2004 and 2013, according to the NHTSA

Advances in car safety have undoubtedly made roadways safer for drivers. But in order for these safety measures to be properly utilized, it’s important for all drivers to responsibly share the road with one another. This means avoiding distractions such as cell phones, driving while intoxicated and adhering to all traffic safety laws. A failure to do so can not only result in an accident, but a lawsuit filed on behalf of injury victims to pay for the accident’s long-term damages. Contact Richard Flexner Law Offices today to discuss your case with an attorney in our Wilmington, NC office.


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