Despite better car safety features, traffic fatalities remain high

This article looks at why traffic fatalities remain so high despite so many new car safety features.

The National Safety Council (NSC) recently released its report on traffic fatalities across the United States in 2017. According to CNBC, the report includes both good and bad news. While overall traffic fatalities dropped by one percent last year after two straight years of sharp increases, they still remain near decade-high levels. In fact, the NSC contends that due to better car safety features, fatal motor vehicle accidents should have gone down much more than they did, but that distracted driving and higher speed limits kept fatalities high.

Fatalities down, but not by much

After a surprising surge in traffic fatalities in 2016 of six percent, the fact that traffic fatalities in the U.S. went down at all in 2017 was welcomed news. The NSC also estimates that there were approximately 4.57 million injuries due to traffic accidents in 2017, which was also a decline of one percent from the previous year. New York saw traffic fatalities decrease by three percent, a decline largely credited to Vision Zero safety measures taken in New York City.

However, while it is certainly good news that traffic fatalities declined, the fact is that they remain at stubbornly high levels. In fact, 2017, which saw 40,100 traffic deaths, was the second year in a row in which fatalities exceeded 40,000. Prior to 2016, traffic fatalities had been on a decades-long downward trend, which has been almost entirely reversed by the surge in recent years.

Safer cars, but more distractions

The fact that traffic fatalities are so high is especially frustrating given that cars themselves are much safer today than they were just a decade ago. As MarketWatch reports, about 20 percent of all cars manufactured in 2017 have Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), which includes such features as adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking, and steering aides, all of which help drivers avoid collisions. In 2015, just eight percent of cars were equipped with ADAS.

However, the beneficial effect of those safety features is being negated by distracted driving and, in many states, higher speed limits. Distracted driving can be a difficult problem to measure since many drivers responsible for such accidents tend not to admit to having been distracted. However, most safety experts believe the problem to be widespread due to the ubiquitous use of both smartphones and in-car infotainment systems. Additionally, a number of states have increased their maximum speed limits to as high as 85 mph. Accidents that occur at higher speeds are much more likely to result in fatalities.

Personal injury law

The aftermath of an accident can be especially difficult to deal with, particularly due to the financial burden that medical bills, physiotherapy, lost income, and property damage may entail. That's why anybody hurt in an accident should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. A personal injury attorney will have the experience needed to help clients understand what their legal options are and even help them with the often complicated claims process.