Macomb County Attorneys on the Best Ideas to Avoid Traffic Deaths
Drivers who have recently purchased new vehicles may have a slew of safety features at their fingertips. Not only are crash avoidance technologies becoming standard on most new vehicles, but the structure and overall design of new vehicles can also help lessen the likelihood of a crash being fatal.
The question remains: Why are traffic fatalities still so high?
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), an estimated 40,000 people were killed in crashes across the United States in 2018. This marked only a one percent decline from 2017 (40,231) and 2016 (40,327).
In Michigan, traffic fatalities remain high. According to the Detroit Free Press, 2016 and 2017 saw more than 1,000 statewide road deaths each year. Those numbers dropped to 974 in 2018. Macomb County had the fourth highest number of fatalities in the state in 2018 – totaling 53.
What’s driving the fatality rate?
Many safety advocates point to an overall increase in traffic volume spurred by lower fuel prices and an improved economy. Others point to poor infrastructure and an increase in distracted driving.
There is no one factor driving the high rate of road deaths. According to Consumer Reports, many factors falling under three categories come into play. These include:
The car: Many of today’s vehicles come standard with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). This semi-autonomous technology is designed to either prevent crashes or diminish the damage caused by a crash. The features alert drivers a collision risk is present, help keep drivers from veering out of their lanes, detect vehicles in blind spots, and automatically apply the brakes when needed.
Self-driving cars are the wave of the future. Still, implementing autonomous technology could take years of testing, development, and winning the trust of the public.
The challenge posed by this technology is driver reliance. If drivers become too confident that semi-autonomous or fully-autonomous technology will work 100 percent of the time, they will less likely be engaged in driving. As with any emerging technology, errors can occur. When it comes to driving, these errors can be fatal.
The roads: Roadway infrastructure is another leading factor in traffic fatalities. Currently, the United States has a great deal of catching up to do. According to the World Health Organization, the US has a traffic fatality rate of 12 deaths per 100,000 people. Much of Western Europe has a rate of under five, and Sweden is under three.
Poor roadway infrastructure puts all road users at risk of a minor misstep turning into a catastrophe. The death rate in the US has sparked a wake-up call throughout a slew of communities. Now, many of them seek change. Lower speed limits and street design that promotes efficiency and safety for non-vehicle road users is a good start.
Repairing an improving road infrastructure is a top priority for Michigan lawmakers. Governor Gretchen Whitmer seeks to raise $2.5 billion in tax revenue for Michigan roads.
"Our roads are the worst in the country,” she said in a statement. “They're downright dangerous. They're hurting our ability to maintain our edge in the mobility sector and lure investment in the state of Michigan."
A 2018 study conducted by Lvl5, a company that designs HD maps for self-driving vehicles, analyzed five million miles of US roadways. Michigan was found to have the poorest road quality in the nation.
The driver: Responsibility falls on drivers, despite the quality of vehicles and road infrastructure. Distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, and reckless driving continue to be leading causes of traffic fatalities in Michigan and across the US.
ADAS technology and roadway improvements can only do so much to prevent crashes caused by human error. Drivers who fail to uphold their duty to drive carefully should be held accountable. If you were injured in a crash due to someone else’s negligence, contact an experienced car accident attorney at Fraser & Souweidane, P.C. to discuss your legal options.