Modern motor vehicles are increasingly including technological features that are changing the nature of transportation. Semi-autonomous driving features continue to make their way into vehicles on Minnesota roadways, bringing many advantages but also raising some new kinds of safety concerns. Many drivers are unaware of the capabilities and limitations of these technologies, and that can lead to car accidents.
Researchers and safety advocates in Minnesota are working to draw attention to the risks faced by rear seat passengers in a car accident. Many safety technologies have been developed in recent decades, including airbags and automatically tightening seat belts. However, while these devices save a significant number of lives and have made cars safer than at any time in the past, they are largely confined to the front seat. Some of the most common rear seat safety standards have not been updated in nearly 50 years despite the massive advances in automotive technology since that time.
Drivers can be distracted by any number of things, and that apparently includes memes. This was one of the findings of an online study run by the market research firm Wakefield Research and involving about 2,000 drivers from Minnesota and across the U.S. However, it is far from the only important finding.
People in Minnesota have good reason to be concerned about the dangers posed by drunk driving. In 2017 alone, 10,874 people lost their lives across the country as a result of car accidents connected to impaired driving. There have been various efforts to put a stop to the practice, from public awareness campaigns to law enforcement crackdowns. However, drivers operating under the influence continue to pose a threat on the roadways.
Minnesota residents may be aware that distracted driving is a widespread issue and even engage in it themselves. The Travelers Companies has been able to gather some interesting data on this trend through a survey of more than 2,000 consumers and executives. It can be found in the 2019 Travelers Risk Index.
Though the number of traffic deaths declined by one percent from 2017 to 2018, the fact is that the years 2016 to 2018 each saw over 40,000 such deaths. To put it in perspective, traffic deaths have risen 14 percent from 2014 to 2018. This is according to the National Safety Council, which also notes that 4.5 million people were seriously injured in car crashes in 2018. Minnesota saw a 5.8 percent rise in traffic deaths from 2017 to 2018.
A recent study conducted for AAA looked at the impact of new vehicle infotainment systems on the ability to maintain focus. Minnesota drivers with high-tech gadgets in their dashboards might want to note the findings of the study, which indicate that infotainment may increase distracted driving risk. AAA issued a reminder to drivers that the presence of certain technologies in a vehicle does not necessarily mean they are safe to use while driving.
Minnesota residents may be interested in learning more about the potential safety benefits of external airbags. Testing has shown that the technology, which is designed to protect against side-impact collisions, has the possibility of reducing passenger injury by up to 40 percent.
Automatic emergency brake systems are among the most exciting new vehicle safety technologies to arise in recent years, and a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that they might work even better than expected. Minnesota drivers are likely to encounter more such systems on the road as all of the major automakers have pledged to include standard automatic emergency braking in mainstream vehicle models by the year 2022. A variety of General Motors vehicles from the 2013 to 2015 model years were examined in the IIHS study.
Automobile showrooms in Minnesota and around the country are filled with vehicles featuring sophisticated crash avoidance technology. However, a recent study from the American Automobile Association suggests that features like blind-spot monitoring systems, emergency braking and adaptive cruise control may be making the nation's roads more rather than less dangerous. Researchers from the advocacy group Foundation for Traffic Safety say that consumers may act recklessly behind the wheel of vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems because they believe that they are far more capable than they really are.