Vehicles on the roads have become safer over the years. Drivers and passengers are routinely walking away from crashes that would have previously caused serious injury or death. In 2017, there were 1.16 vehicle fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. That number has steadily declined for decades as more and more car safety features have been installed and driving laws have changed.
In 1959, Volvo developed the seat belt. That year, there were 5.17 vehicle fatalities per 100 million miles driven. New York was the first state to mandate seat belt use in 1984. In 1984, vehicle fatalities had dropped to 2.57 per 100 million miles. By the time seat belt safety became a nationwide cause in the early 2000s, the rate hovered around 1.5 fatalities per 100 million miles.
More and more safety improvements have been made to cars, leading to safer and safer drives. And with more of these safety systems becoming standard on vehicles, overall driver safety continues to improve. Seat belts, driver and passenger front air bags, tire pressure monitoring, and electronic stability control are all required by law in newer vehicles. Many safety features are not required by law but are common in newer model year vehicles, including side and rear airbags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, reverse cameras, and blindspot detection. Still more advanced safety features are becoming more and more mainstream, including imminent collision warnings, drowsiness detection, active cruise control, lane departure warnings, and automatic emergency braking.
The ultimate car safety feature, autonomous driving, is on the horizon. Self-driving cars aim to remove the cause of about 94 percent of fatal car crashes: drivers. Only time will tell how effective driverless cars will be in reducing fatal car crashes.
Find an interesting infographic detailing the history of car safety here.
Even with all of the innovation of vehicle safety features, car accidents still happen. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury in a car crash, the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth can help you pay your medical bills and seek financial compensation. Call 888-517-9888 for a free consultation.