Cars are larger now than they ever have been in the past. In 1987, the average new car weighed 3,221 pounds. In 2010 that weight moved up to 4,009 pounds. There is a 47 percent chance increase in fatality for the other occupants of the smaller car if the larger outweighs it by 1,000 pounds, which is quite easy when comparing an SUV with a sedan. The larger the car is, the more dangerous it is to others on the road, not only due to its deadly mass during impact, but poses a great threat in the fact that there is a great lack of visibility. While there is a very slim chance of hope that all Americans suddenly start purchasing and using only small, lightweight cars that are safer for all road users, we can make driving large, and small, cars more safe by taking precautions.
Driving is Safer Today Despite Heavy Automobiles
Despite the increasingly large size of cars on the roads today, fatalities have, in fact, decreased drastically in the past few decades. It was not that long ago (1964) that 45,000 people died in auto crashes on a year basis. That number was down to 32,719 in 2013. Although the numbers are not out yet, it is expected to be higher for last year, 2015. By looking back to 1989, we can see just how much safer driving is today. Not only do fewer people die in crashes today, but the rate of death and injury per mile driven is actually lower as well. In 1989 there were 157 severe injuries per 100 million miles driven, as compared to 2013 where the rate is down to 87 severe injuries per million miles driven. The cars themselves may be heavier and more dangerous to smaller vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists, but the advancements in technology are keeping people safer. For example, some of these technologies include steel roll cages, crumple zones in the front and rear of vehicles, front and side airbags, and better anti-lock brakes. Social changes and laws play into things as well. There is stricter enforcement of laws by the police, better road surfaces, and more road infrastructure for safety such as lights, signs, and more intelligent road design.
Steps to Make Driving Even Safer
Cell phones and other electronic devices are creating a serious problem on the roads. According to Automotive Fleet, 40 percent of all car accidents include one of the drivers using a cell phone. Cell phone use may very well have had a part to play in the rise in the predicted number of fatalities in 2015. Talking on the phone while driving is dangerous enough; texting is even worse. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting and driving is six times more dangerous than drunk driving. One of the most important steps to take in order to increase your and everyone else’s safety when you are behind the wheel is to never use an electronic device. Using your phone to look up directions is just as dangerous as texting.
Additional safety measures to take include properly adjusting your mirrors, slowing down in wet or bad weather conditions and allowing more space between you and the vehicle in front, and ensuring that you get at least seven, though preferably eight, hours of sleep per night on average. In a study done by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, those who got six to seven hours of sleep per night were twice as likely to cause a crash than drivers who slept eight or more hours.
No matter how many precautions you take, there are still millions of unsafe drivers out on the roads. Sometimes you have no control over a situation. If you have been injured in a car accident that was no fault of your own, you may be able to collect damages. Contact an experienced Charlotte, North Carolina car accident attorney today to discuss your legal options.