How Car Safety Devices and Driver Behavior Impact Highway Safety

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on May 06, 2021 in Auto Accident

The number of fatalities from car crashes rose steadily throughout the U.S. until 2016. Since that time, the number of traffic deaths began to decrease by a small percentage each year until 2020. During the pandemic, however, those numbers rose again sharply by an astonishing eight percent, despite there being less miles traveled and fewer vehicles on the road.

Even though many vehicles have a variety of safety features, these safety features often cannot overcome dangerous driving behaviors to prevent crashes. Below, review what you should know to keep yourself and others safer on our roadways.

Did a driver’s careless or negligent behavior cause you or a loved one to suffer harm in a car crash? If so, Rizk Law wants to hear from you. Our qualified auto accident lawyers in Portland are ready to listen to your situation and discuss your potential legal options.

Call for a free case review. We are ready to help. 503.245.5677

Do Safety Devices Work?

Most passenger cars today are, at a minimum, equipped with seat belts and airbags. Newer model vehicles have more technical safety features for those who can afford them, but how well do they work?

According to statistics listed in a recent Insurance Information Institute article, seat belts and airbags save a lot of lives:

  • Seatbelts – Tried and true, seatbelts saved about 14,955 lives in 2017. In fatal crashes that same year, 83 percent of passenger occupants who were not wearing their seatbelts and were ejected from their vehicle died.
  • Airbags – Frontal airbags have been required by the federal government in all passenger cars manufactured since 1999. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these devices alone saved 2,790 occupants age 13 and up in 2017.

Decrease in Crash Deaths Starting in 2017

For a few years, the number of crash fatalities was on an upward trend. That is until 2017, when those numbers went down in most traffic categories until 2019. However, during the pandemic when there were fewer vehicles on the roads, fatalities from traffic crashes rose again. In fact, there was an eight percent increase in the number of motor vehicle fatalities in 2020. Approximately 42,060 people died last year in car crashes, and the death rate per miles traveled was 24 percent higher than the previous year. This traffic death hike was the highest increase recorded in the last 96 years.

Impact of Driver Behavior

The NHTSA gathers and tracks data about the types of driving behaviors that contribute to or cause fatal crashes. Speeding is at the top of the list.

In 2018, 17 percent of all crashes were speed related. Yet, despite the risks of driving at high speed, 42 states now have implemented maximum speed limits of 70 mph or higher. Eleven states have posted limits of 75 mph and another eight have speed limits of 80 mph. To put these speed limits in perspective, a study conducted by the IIHS showed that vehicle crashes between two vehicles traveling at 56 mph would likely cause leg fractures, as well as severe brain and neck injuries.

The second highest type of risky driving behavior, responsible for 10 percent of fatal crashes, is operating while impaired by intoxicants, such as drugs, alcohol or even prescription medications. Distracted drivers took fifth place, causing five percent of fatalities.

Avoiding a Car Crash

In addition to helping to keep your insurance rates from increasing, utilizing safety devices and practicing safe driving behavior can help you to prevent a crash.

Other factors that can help to reduce your chances of either causing or being involved in a road crash include:

  • Maintaining and servicing your vehicle
  • Slowing down and following traffic safety laws
  • Not driving if impaired by fatigue, alcohol, drugs or prescription medication
  • Paying attention to the road, not other passengers, cellphones, technology or music
  • Remaining alert for potential driving hazards: impaired drivers, potholes, work zones, swerving vehicles and more
  • Avoiding traveling during high traffic times or when weather impacts road safety
  • Allowing more time to get to your destination

Our Experienced Lawyers Are Prepared to Help You

Despite our best efforts, car crashes may still happen. If you are injured by another’s negligence in a car crash, we are ready to help. At Rizk Law, we have been handling cases like yours for decades, recovering millions in compensation. Read what some of our former clients have to say about the legal services we have provided.

Set up a completely free case review to meet with one of our qualified attorneys to discuss your situation and learn about your legal options. There is zero cost for this meeting and no obligation to engage our firm. If we represent you, there is nothing to pay up front or while we work on your case. We only get paid if you do.