Do Vehicle Safety Features Reduce Car Accidents?
Seatbelt safety laws were controversial when they were made an official part of the California vehicle code back in 1986. Today, vehicle safety features are innovated at exponential rates, and today’s newest vehicle models have safety features we only dreamed of back in the 1980s.
Some of these features are appreciated, while others drive new car owners crazy due to their ability to override the driver’s control. Either way, insurance companies, third-party researchers, and national traffic data prove that most current vehicle safety innovations reduce car accidents and the severity of car accident victim injuries and fatalities.
Most Effective Vehicle Safety Features
Statistics show that more than 50% of drivers/passengers killed in auto accidents were not wearing their seatbelts. Importantly, an estimated 374,276 people are alive today as a result of wearing their seatbelts when they were involved in an auto accident. These unignorable facts are why automakers continue innovating new and improved safety features.
Here are five safety features that studies show are the most effective at preventing and reducing car accidents and minimizing the degree of injury to car accident victims.
Drivers and passengers wearing seatbelts still experience traumatic injuries to the brain and spine as a result of contact with a steering wheel, dashboard, or other components on the interior of the vehicle. The addition of airbags front and side airbags has made a dramatic difference in the severity of injuries sustained when an accident occurs. Front and side airbags are estimated to have saved at least 50,000 lives and have reduced injuries for countless accident victims.
Automatic braking systems (ABS)
ABS systems are not a staple feature on new cars, but current statistics indicate their ability to reduce car accidents means ABS is the wave of the future. These high-tech braking systems use special sensors to detect oncoming traffic or objects that might cause a collision and override the driver’s brakes.
They are not every driver’s best friend, as it takes time to get used to your driving instincts or actions being overridden by your vehicle. However, Bay Area drivers are well aware of our how congested our roadways are and how suddenly traffic ahead can change. ABS systems also provide additional protection when the roadway conditions are wet, particularly during the winter and spring. NHTSA.gov studies show ABS systems significantly reduce the number of collisions and accidents on wet roads.
Crash avoidance technologies (backup cameras, blind spot detection, collision warning, adaptive cruise control, etc.)
Crash avoidance technologies cover a wide range of tools. Luxury cars offer them all, but even non-luxury models come automatically equipped with tools like backup cameras and collision warnings. Similar to ABS, drivers have mixed feelings about these features due to their extra beeps, sounds, and the override features that activate brakes or steering mechanisms. However, a post on togetherforsaferroads.org cites that not only do crash avoidance technologies prevent accidents, but they also save auto insurance companies a significant sum of money. A Carnegie Mellon University researcher stated, “If vehicle crash avoidance technologies were deployed throughout the light-duty vehicle fleet, we could see crash prevention cost savings of up to $264 billion, assuming all relevant crashes are prevented.”
Another article posted by Forbes states that research by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) vehicles showed a 27% reduction in bodily injury claim frequency and a 19% reduction in property damage frequency.
What About Automatic Driving Systems?
The jury is still out on Automatic Driving Systems. While these cars utilize all of the ADAS listed above, there is not enough real-time data to support them becoming the norm. While almost all major car companies are invested in some level of development and testing, the only cars on the mass market are those (like Tesla) that offer Level 1 and Level 2 functions. This means autonomous features can be used but are supposed to be overseen (and overridden) by the driver.
The number of accidents caused by drivers using their autonomous features is part of why these technologies are not yet mainstream. These systems do not have a trusted track record - yet.
Lives Are Saved By Vehicle Safety Features
Data does not lie, and statistics from the NHTSA and various third-party researchers prove that vehicle safety features reduce car accidents, save lives, and minimize the number of serious accident-related injuries and fatalities yearly.
When applying current analytics to historical traffic safety data, the NHTSA states that:
- The average vehicle on the road in 2012 would have an estimated 56% lower fatality risk for its occupants than the average vehicle on the road in the late 1950s.
- Vehicle safety developments helped raise the annual number of lives saved from 115 in 1960 to 27,621 in 2012.
- Cumulatively, improved safety technologies saved over 600,000 lives between 1960 and 2012.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer When You Need One
The team at Burneikis Law encourages all of our clients to drive safely. You are the first line of defense between your car and other drivers, but these vehicle safety features certainly help to keep you safe. Do not hesitate to contact us at (510) 328-3238 if you or someone you know was recently involved in an accident. We will review all the facts and ensure you are properly represented from start to finish.