Vehicle safety is the first and probably biggest step toward occupant safety.
In recent years auto manufacturers have been implementing changes to increase vehicle safety. Some of those changes have been urged by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) such as incorporating crash imminent braking and dynamic brake support.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports if you drive a late-model vehicle, your chances of dying in a crash were reduced by more than 33% in only three years time.
The new vehicle safety features are mostly responsible for this decline in fatalities.
“We know from our vehicle ratings program that crash test performance has been getting steadily better,” said David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer, in a recent IIHS article. He added, “The complete elimination of traffic deaths is still many decades away, and, along with vehicle improvements, getting there will require changes in road design and public policy that can help protect all road users.”
Zero traffic deaths is a worthy goal. Sweden has been working toward eliminating crash deaths since 1997. They are on record as the lowest number of child fatalities with their long-term rear-facing guidelines — children in Sweden remain rear facing until they are 4 years old when they move into a belt positioning device.
The IIHS keeps track of how many driver deaths per type of vehicle in a model year. For 2011 models, there were nine vehicles with a driver death rate of zero. These vehicles include several luxury models and also less expensive ones like the Kia Sorento and the Subaru Legacy. Two-thirds of these vehicles are SUVs.
If you are looking for a safe vehicle, drive right on by the mini and small cars. They dominate the worst list of driver death rates over 100. Most of you reading this have families so a bigger car is a likely choice anyway.
Like cars of years past, bigger cars just offer more space and protection around you. And now they come with the addition of vehicle safety technology built into many aspects from crumple zones to airbag systems.
The increased number of lives saved is good news, but that’s not the end of the story. Manufacturers will continue to make vehicle safety improvements. As these technologies mature, NHSTA says they will continue to accelerate its push for innovative and effective solutions to reduce motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. with goals such as vehicle to vehicle communication and autonomous driving cars.
Fewer crashes equals fewer fatalities. Will autonomous driving cars bring crashes to zero? Zero crashes equals zero fatalities.
Until that time we still need to improve seat belt use, increase correct car seat installation, enhance seat belt design for those little lives who often aren’t counted as they are yet to be born, and decrease distracted and drunk driving to further reduce crash fatalities.
Read about safer 2017 cars for those on a budget.
What safety features did you look for in a car? Share your comments below.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
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