As Florida car accident attorneys, we are always saddened to hear of a rise in car accident related injuries and deaths. This is why it is difficult to report that recent data demonstrates that the number of car and truck accidents resulting in wrongful deaths dramatically rose for over the past year, reaching a decade’s high; all in the face of added vehicle safety equipment and so-called self-driving vehicles.
The rise in deadly crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that the increase to nearly 38,000 victims last year, is due to a number of reasons including speeding and the lack of seat belt use. The steady increase in accident deaths reverses what had been a steady drop from 2007 through 2014. While the researchers expected deadly car accidents to decrease given the increased use of so-called autonomous driving being installed in many vehicles, what they did not anticipate was that distracted driving, caused by drivers’ use of advances in vehicle technology are actually making it easier for drivers to be distracted.
Also, speeding and driver carelessness were responsible for a nearly 5% rise in deadly car accidents. Sadly, pedestrians being struck and killed by drivers rose nearly 10% over the past year. As expected, drunk driving accidents were to blame for nearly a 2 percent rise.
The government copes that the inclusion of automatic braking, rear cameras, lane departure warnings and better air bags will eventually help stem the tide against the rising number of deaths by making vehicles safer. But as the AAA determined in a recent study, giving drivers access to more technology, particularly touch screens, with their dozens of driver assistance features, actually results in motorist taking their eyes off the roadway for dangerous and prolonged periods of time. Those distracted motorists alone accounted for nearly 9% of the deadly car accidents. The AAA believes that vehicle manufacturers should restrict driver access to many features while a vehicle is in motion.
In particular, the AAA would like manufactures to limit use of social media and communications such as email and text. Unlike rather routine use of vehicle controls to change the air conditioning or change a radio station, never vehicles have become so sophisticated that drivers must take their hands of the steering wheel, and eyes off the road for a dangerous amount of time in order to accomplish tasks such as using a car’s navigation system or check a text message.
In fact, testing revealed that all vehicles required a high degree of driver attention to use their infotainment systems. Given prior research shows that when drivers are distracted, even by two seconds, their risk of being in a collision nearly doubles. So, when manufactures allow drivers to text while a vehicle is in motion, they are condoning an activity they know is likely to result in a crash.
We agree with the AAA that motorists should only be able to use vehicle technology for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving-related purposes, which clearly does not include texting.