When it comes to roadway safety, the U.S. has made great progress in achieving all time lows in motor vehicle fatalities. Although fatal car accident deaths fell below the threshold of 33,000 last year, there are still an awful lot of lives lost in fatal but very preventable accidents.

Some of these car accident fatalities are a result of failure to fully implement available counter-measures while other deaths result from drivers disregarding obvious safety practices. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently conducted a study of the available counter-measures to reduce fatal car accidents and analyzed best practices for further reducing the number of avoidable highway fatalities.

  • Vehicle Safety Features: Vehicle safety technology is continually improving with collision avoidance systems, sophisticated electronic stability control, more extensive use of air bags and other safety features. However, these innovations take time to become standard equipment on most vehicles. The other issue is that just because a vehicle comes installed with this type of safety equipment does not mean that drivers will utilize the technology. A surprising number of drivers still do not routinely use a seatbelt which is the most effective safety equipment in a motor vehicle.
  • Seatbelt Use: It seems counter-intuitive that such a longstanding safety feature needs to be addressed but many accident fatalities still are a product of drivers who fail to buckle up. Despite innovative advances in vehicle safety equipment, the seatbelt remains the most effective way to protect the lives of vehicle occupants. While mandatory seatbelt laws have helped increase the percentage of motorists who buckle up, the effectiveness of the laws vary. Some states require that all vehicle occupants wear a seatbelt and treat a violation as a primary offense meaning that a driver can be stopped and cited even if the only offense is failure to properly wear a seatbelt. Other states only require seatbelts of some vehicle occupants based on age and/or whether they are sitting in the front or backseat. The laws also are not primary offenses in all states meaning that a driver may not be pulled over and cited unless they have committed some other offense. The fines associated with the offense also vary substantially so in some states the fine is not sufficient to impact driving behavior. Primary seatbelt laws with higher fines could yield substantial injury prevention.
  • Helmet Use: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that while motorcycle helmets save almost 1,500 lives annually, the number of saved lives could be increased by almost 50 percent if all motorcyclists wore helmets. Some states do not mandate use of motorcycle helmets, which accounts for the lives that could be saved. While helmet use is almost universal in states with mandatory helmet laws, helmets are worn by only half of all riders in states without mandatory helmet laws or where helmets are only mandatory for riders in a certain age range according to the NHTSA. If all states made helmets mandatory, it would result in a reduction in motorcycle accident fatalities.
  • Stricter Teen Driving Laws: The study conducted by the IIHS concludes that certain teen driving restrictions that are part of graduated license programs reduce teen accident risks. Restrictions that limit when a teen may drive, restrict passengers and require more practice behind the wheel prior to issuance of an unrestricted license have proven to be effective in improving traffic safety.
  • Reduction in Speed Limits: According to the IIHS, speeding was a contributing factor in almost a third of all car accident fatalities. Over 10,500 deaths are caused by speed-related auto accidents. According to a study reported in the American Journal of Public Health, the increase in speed limits since abolishing the national speed limit has resulted in an overall increase of 3 percent in traffic-related fatalities. The increase rises to 9 percent on interstates in rural areas. Speed limits continue to increase in some states to as high as 85 miles per hour. The study authors presume that reducing speed limits could yield a substantial reduction in traffic-related fatalities.

This overview of strategies to reduce auto accident fatalities in Georgia and throughout the U.S makes it clear that there are measures that could make our roads safer. While some of these measures may eventually be implemented, many Georgia residents will continue to be involved in Georgia auto accidents. If you or a member of your immediate family is involved in a car accident, the experienced Georgia auto accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates willl provide you with a free consultation to discuss the protection of your rights and your entitlement to money damages. Our Georgia auto accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.