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Why Did Traffic Fatalities Rise Despite Innovative Advances in Vehicle Safety?

March 13, 2013

Manufacturers of cars, trucks and SUVs have implemented impressive advancements in vehicle safety over the last decade. These improvements range from collision warning systems, airbag system advances, tire pressure monitoring systems and even measures to counter distracted driving.

Given this vast array of advances, one is left to wonder why the number of traffic-related fatalities increased by five percent in the first six months of 2012 according to the National Safety Council.

The obvious answer is the increase in inattentive driving by drivers using portable electronic devices behind the wheel. There are over 320 million mobile phones in the U.S. along with MP3 players, tablet computers, GPS devices, portable DVD players, in-dash entertainment systems, iPods and many other gadgets to distract drivers. Distracted driving has gained the attention of both federal and state traffic safety regulatory agencies.

Many states have passed laws to limit the impact of portable electronic devices as a factor in causing auto accidents. Currently, 39 states prohibit text messaging while operating a motor vehicle and ten states have banned talking on a cell phone while driving according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Georgia law bans novice drivers from texting and talking on cell phones while prohibiting all drivers from text messaging when driving.

There is another factor that may explain the rise in traffic fatalities despite recent advances in vehicle safety technology. The rise in the average cost of a new vehicle combined with the decline in family wealth and household income has made it more difficult for people to buy new cars. Many Americans are sticking with their current vehicle for more than a decade so innovative new safety advances languish away on new car lots. A base model car, truck or SUV is safer today than a mid-level model even five years ago according to Jonathon Linkov, Managing Editor & Data Supervisor Autos for Consumer Reports in an interview with ABC News.

Some of the most significant recent safety innovations include the following:

  • Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems: Driving with low tire pressure can be extremely dangerous because it increases the risk of a collision caused by a tire blowout. The risk of loss of control of a vehicle and/or a rollover accident is significant when a tire blows out. Some vehicles come with tire monitoring systems that warn a driver if the tire pressure is low and may even give a signal when the tire pressure has reached to appropriate level.
  • Anti-Distraction/Drowsy Driving Technology: Some vehicles detect when a driver seems to be distracted or dozing off behind the wheel. Although this safety equipment varies in the way different versions function, these devices generally sound an alarm and may even apply the brakes to assist a driver in maintaining control of the vehicle.
  • Increased Airbag Use: More airbags are being installed and placed in areas that did not previously have airbag protection. Airbags not only can reduce the risk of colliding with hard surfaces inside the vehicle, but they can also decrease the likelihood of a vehicle ejection.
  • Inflatable Seat Belts: This device is installed in the backseat of some vehicles and functions as an airbag for kids in booster seats. The purpose of the device is to distribute energy over more of the body and reduce injuries to the neck, head and chest.

If you or a family member has suffered serious injury or you have lost a loved one, our experienced Atlanta auto accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to 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 and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.