Because car manufacturers tend to design their vehicles to pass the existing safety tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently instituted new tests that rate cars for passenger safety. In the past, manufacturers had focused on driver safety since that was what the tests looked for. The IIHS asserts that it is important to improve passenger safety so that it is equal to the safety standards imposed for drivers.
IIHS Safety Tests
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety performs tests each year on newly released vehicle models. The tests are influential and let customers understand how safe the different models are so they can make informed purchasing decisions. Because of the importance of these tests, vehicle manufacturers tend to design their vehicles to pass them. In the past, the tests have focused on the safety of drivers. Recently, however, the IIHS has been concerned about making certain that the manufacturers also design their vehicles to be equally safe for passengers. It added passenger-side front crash tests to its safety testing regimen this year.
The IIHS tested 13 vehicles with its new passenger side 40 mph frontal crash test. Of the vehicles that were tested, 10 received good ratings from the IIHS. Out of the remaining three, the Volkswagen Jetta was rated as acceptable while the Chevrolet Malibu and the Volkswagen Passat received ratings of marginal. The IIHS recommends that manufacturers optimize the safety of their airbags and headrests to equalize the safety of vehicles for passengers as well as drivers.
While enhanced safety measures won’t prevent all motor vehicle injuries from occurring, they can help to minimize the risks of serious injuries or fatalities when accidents happen. The IIHS designs its tests so that consumers can use the results as one factor in their decisions about which vehicles to purchase. People who are in the market to purchase new cars may now have access to more accurate safety ratings due to the changes. Because car manufacturers are aware that consumers pay attention to IIHS ratings, they might be led to add enhanced features to their vehicles to make them safer for all passengers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 90 people die each day in the United States due to motor vehicle crashes. That number is almost double the number of roadway deaths of any other high-income country. Between 2000 and 2013, the U.S. reduced highway deaths by approximately 31 percent. Many analysts agree that vehicle crash fatalities could be further reduced in the U.S. by adopting proven strategies.
Who is at highest risk?
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), 90 percent of crash-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. In high-income countries like the United States, people from lower socioeconomic levels are more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash. Young males are three times more likely to die in a vehicle crash than young females.
Common causes of vehicle deaths
To effectively reduce the number of highway deaths, it is important to understand the causes. Doing so can help individuals, vehicle manufacturers and lawmakers address safety issues to minimize the risk of crashes and prevent serious injuries and deaths when accidents do occur.
- Speed is directly related to both the likelihood of having a crash and the probability that deaths will occur in the accident. A personal injury attorney can advise pedestrians or passengers who have been injured due to speeding of their rights and options.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and other psychoactive drugs accounts for nearly one-third of all U.S. traffic-related deaths. A person driving after taking amphetamines is five times more likely to be in a fatal accident than someone who hasn’t.
- Proper use of safety equipment can significantly reduce fatalities. Wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces the risk of death in an accident by 40 percent. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of death for front seat passengers by as much as 50 percent.
- Distracted driving is an evolving problem as new technologies emerge. Drivers using phones are four times more likely to be in a crash. Drivers using hands-free devices are not much safer.
What can be done?
Erin Sauber-Schatz, Ph.D., M.P.H. is a team leader for the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Erin says 10,000 lives could be saved every year by eliminating alcohol-impaired driving. An additional 3,000 deaths could be prevented by increasing seat belt usage to 100 percent.
Safety advocates are calling for more safety testing of autonomous vehicles before they are released to the market in Tennessee and elsewhere. Recently, the advocates’ efforts were rewarded in the Senate. A senatorial committee included some of the recommendations of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in a pending bill that would govern the manufacture and release of autonomous vehicles. The bill originally would have exempted many autonomous vehicles from the safety testing requirements of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, something that the safety experts decried. If the bill ultimately passes, more safety testing will be required before the manufacturers will be able to release the vehicles for sale on the market.
Safety Testing Recommendations
The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety lobbied members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to limit the number of allowed exemptions from safety standards for autonomous vehicles in the bill. They also asked that the Department of Transportation is required to conduct more safety evaluations of exempt AVs before they agree to a larger release of the vehicles. Other provisions that the advocates lobbied for include mandating the publication of safety evaluation reports of AVs by their manufacturers, the inclusion of alert systems to prevent people from forgetting children behind in cars and the inclusion of safeguards for cybersecurity issues.
The group received backing from several senators, and the bill passed the committee on a bipartisan basis. The safety recommendations from the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety was included in the markup of the bill, leading the organization to claim a victory in its lobbying efforts. The organization says that driverless vehicles should not be released on a mass basis until the manufacturers can show that they are safer than cars that are controlled by human drivers.
Autonomous vehicles show promise in their potential to greatly reduce injury and fatality accidents, but it is important to make certain that they are safe before they are made available on the mass market. The bill would lead to more on-road testing of the vehicles, and the inclusion of the additional provisions may help to make the testing safer for the public.
While driverless cars may lead to a drop in the number of accidents, some are still bound to happen. A Nashville car accident lawyer may help accident victims who are injured in accidents with AVs.
New technology is under development to reduce accidents caused by drowsy driving in Tennessee and elsewhere, which claim the lives of 6,000 people in the U.S. each year. The device is worn on the wrists of drivers, and it uses biometric data to sense when they are beginning to get drowsy. If they show these signs, the device will vibrate. If the drivers then start to fall asleep, the device sends electrical pulses that shock the drivers awake so that they can get off of the road. Some of the cases that a Nashville car accident lawyer handles involve drowsy driving crashes that have caused serious injuries or deaths when the drivers fall asleep behind the wheel.
How the Drowsy Driving Technology Works
The entrepreneur behind the company Creative Mode became concerned about the problems of drowsy driving after his friend fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a tree, causing serious injuries. The entrepreneur then began working to create a new device that could help drivers to remain awake. He came up with a wearable device that he named Steer. Drivers wear the device on their wrists while they drive. After first taking a baseline reading, Steer takes biometric readings of the drivers, including heart rate and sweat production.
If a driver’s heart rate drops below the baseline reading by 10 beats per minute and the sweat secretion drops by one unit, the wearable device will vibrate to alert the driver that he or she is drowsy. If the driver’s heart rate subsequently falls by an additional three beats per minute and the sweat secretion decreases by another unit, the device sends gentle shocks that are strong enough to wake the driver up.
The idea behind using the shocks is that they increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, which causes drivers to awaken. The entrepreneur says that even if the devices wake the drivers up, they should pull off of the road and get some sleep to prevent automobile accidents rather than attempting to continue driving. The device has generated significant interest and more than 100 investors on Kickstarter are currently backing it. It is expected to retail at $230. Drivers can currently purchase Steer on Kickstarter for $130. A Nashville car accident lawyer may help victims who have been injured by drowsy drivers.
Seat belts don’t always save lives and each year thousands of seat belts fail to protect the drivers and passengers who use them. While properly operating seat belts reduce the risk of serious injury or death by between 40-55%, it is estimated that up to 6,000 fatalities per year are the result of defective seat belts.
Causes of Seat Belt Failure
There are four common forms of seat belt failure, including seat belt latch failure, retractor failure, and spooling. Seat belt latch failure involves a latch that either falsely latches or that unlatches without warning. Retractor failure is similar and involves the failure of the locking mechanism that is supposed to restrict forward movement of the seat belt. This is commonly related to webbing defects which involves loose seat belt webbing that allows too much movement of the belt or causes the belt to snap when stretched. Finally, the mounting may be improperly secured to the vehicle which can cause it to snap off of the body of the vehicle and become a deadly projectile.
Of course, the number one reasons seat belts fail isn’t because of defect parts, it is because motorists and their passengers simply don’t use them. According to the CDC, half of teens between the ages of 13 and 19, as well as adults 20 to 44 who died in car accidents in 2015 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the accident.
Liability for Seatbelt Failure
Liability for a seat belt failure may belong to the automobile manufacturer or the manufacturer of the specific part. For example, if investigative research by either party indicates that the seat belt contains faulty parts or design defects that make it prone to failure. Liability may also fall on any individual whose actions caused critical damage to the seat belt that then caused the seat belt to fail during an automobile accident.
Seat belt failure is not always immediately clear following an accident. Indeed, many injuries may be misattributed to other causes when the real cause is a defective seat belt. For this reason, it is important to work closely with an attorney in Nashville TN to thoroughly review images from the accident, the accident report, and any medical records that indicate the presence of a seat belt failure at the time the accident occurred.
Tens of thousands of Americans die on the roadways each year, with more than a third of all fatalities attributable to alcohol in some way. While most individuals understand the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the dangers of smartphones are just now becoming evident.
The latest evidence indicates that as many as half of all vehicle accidents have at least one driver who is using a phone, and a third of crashes involved drivers using a phone at the time of the accident. Among the sobering conclusions of a recent study is that texting while driving is a direct contributor to the deaths of at least 11 young people every day.
Most states and municipalities are now passing some form of legislation in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents these distracted drivers are causing in increasing numbers. However, some of the same studies mentioned above note those laws have largely proven ineffective. These realities make it important to contact an attorney Nashville TN residents trust after any major vehicle accident. This is especially the case if a smartphone is suspected as a cause of the crash.
An experienced attorney in Nashville, TN will know how to seek evidence of distracted driving, and this information is often critical to protecting a victim’s rights. Auto and truck accidents cause billions of dollars in damage and affect hundreds of thousands of drivers each year.
Seeking recovery for lost wages, medical bills and other costs, including short and long-term disability is often a challenging and difficult proposition. Without proper legal assistance, that process will defeat the average individual’s efforts.
An experienced attorney for Nashville TN accidents will carefully examine and sort out the facts in an auto accident. Today, that process will include gathering records of phone usage from the other drivers and determining the role that use and other factors played in causing the accident.
When a commercial truck is involved, a thorough investigation by the attorney in Nashville TN will also explore such details as truck maintenance records and the driver’s logbooks. These and numerous other factors all play a role in determining liability in a truck-vehicle accident.
Receiving the appropriate financial compensation as the victim of a vehicle accident is never the result of luck. Rather, it is the committed attorney Nashville TN clients rely on that produces the best results.