What can be done to reduce highway fatalities?
It’s been said that accidents happen, but when it comes to car crashes, driver errors are usually to blame. Obviously, violations of traffic laws such as speeding, running red lights and drunk driving are leading reasons for automobile accidents. With the advent of smart phones, distracted driving also became a safety hazard as drivers made calls or sent text messages. Now, there are laws in place that prohibit drivers in New York from using their mobile devices, but traffic fatalities are on the rise here and across the nation. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic fatalities in 2015 spiked after four decades of declines. Moreover, in the first six months of 2016, highway deaths were up by more than 10 percent compared to the same period in 2015 with 17,775 deaths reported thus far Given the crackdown on drunk driving in previous years and more recent rules aimed at distracted driving, one would think that the highways are becoming safer. Moreover automakers have introduced technologies that enable drivers to place calls, dictate texts and use apps hands-free. These systems are designed to allow drivers to interact with their smartphones, but still focus on driving. The question remains, however, as to whether feeing drivers hands with these technologies actually reduces distractions. In fact, these innovations may be pushing drivers to use their phones for other purposes while driving such as using apps for navigation, listening to music, and other digital diversions. While many newer automobiles come equipped with automatic braking mechanisms, blind spot alerts and lane drifting warnings, these and other technologies aimed at reducing driver distractions have yet to lead to improved highway safety. One reason might be that freeing up drivers hands has not necessarily reduced the cognitive workloads on their brains. In any event the number of car accident fatalities over the last two years is at the highest level since 2009. In response, the Department of Transportation, the National Safety Council and other safety advocacy groups are working on an ambitious strategy to eliminate roadway fatalities within 30 years. This will require enhanced regulations at the state and federal level along with the introduction of autonomous driving cars and trucks. In the meantime, if you were injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney.