Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in the United States. According to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 700 people died in traffic collisions in 2017 – and that’s just in Mississippi. This statistic is genuinely tragic because most of these collisions could have been avoided entirely if not for the presence of distracted, speeding, and intoxicated drivers.
Human Error vs. Safety Technology
We are living in a unique era of transition that is defined by significant advancements in technology. A great example is how American automakers are utilizing crash avoidance safety technology to compensate for a driver’s recklessness and moments of distraction. Each year, fleets of vehicles are released with updated smartphone and safety technology options. Some manufacturers and rideshare companies are even taking this idea a step further by developing self-operating vehicles.
There is no question that driver-assistance technology has come a long way. Today, you can buy a vehicle that automatically backs into spaces and avoids potential road hazards. If you fail to take appropriate action, the car can take control by steering or braking autonomously.
Crash avoidance safety technology encompasses several marketable features, including but not limited to:
- Forward collision warning
- Blind spot detection
- Back-up parking assistance
- Lane departure prevention
- Lane departure warning
- Adaptive headlights
Manufacturers, researchers, and lawmakers are hoping that crash avoidance safety technology can protect drivers from the consequences of human error. Multiple studies have proven that these features can reduce the number of roadway collisions on a national scale, so why do fatality rates continue to rise each year?
Distracted Driving vs. Safety Technology
Safety technology is constantly improving and evolving. In the future, we may be able to travel in autonomous vehicles without any concern for our personal safety. But that day isn’t today. There are still limitations to this technology, and drivers need to pay attention to the road. For example, vehicle sensors are vulnerable to defective traffic signals, poor weather, and intense sunlight. They also struggle to process traffic signs – including stop signs and merging traffic warnings – that have been tagged by graffiti.
The downside of this technology is that it encourages complacency. Motorists expect these vehicles to correct their mistakes and protect them from hazards. Last March, a self-driving Uber vehicle famously killed a pedestrian while its safety driver was watching television on her smartphone. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the accident and determined that the vehicle’s computer system confused the pedestrian with an “unrecognized object.”
There is also another factor that needs to be considered: Automakers are incorporating smartphone features that encourage distracted driving behaviors, including the ability to watch movies, stream music, and make hands-free calls and texts.
The Question of Age & Technology
Last July, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah published a study, “Age-Related Differences in the Cognitive, Visual and Temporal Demands of In-Vehicle Information Systems” that proves senior drivers are more likely to be distracted by in-vehicle smartphone technology.
Drivers over the age of 55 struggle to utilize the following in-vehicle functions:
- Calling contacts with a hands-free system.
- Listening and replying to text messages with free dictation software.
- Starting and canceling navigation programs.
- Tuning the radio and selecting music from USB-connected devices.
According to this study, senior drivers are 4-8 seconds slower than their millennial counterparts when it comes to utilizing in-vehicle systems. This data is incredibly alarming because taking your eyes off the road for even 2 seconds can double your chances of crashing a vehicle.
Do You Require Personal Injury Representation?
The future of crash avoidance safety technology is colored by risks, security issues, and countless legal uncertainties. Unfortunately, automakers are releasing vehicles before lawmakers can establish regulations that address potential liability issues. If you or a loved one requires legal representation after a collision, contact the car accident attorneys at Richard Schwartz & Associates Injury Lawyer, P.A. Our skilled legal team can investigate the accident and determine which parties should be held liable for your injuries and financial losses. With our guidance, you can recover compensation that mitigates your medical debts and safeguards your standard of living.