If you think all the latest safety technologies are keeping us relatively accident free, think again. The National Safety Council just released figures on 2018 traffic fatalities, and it’s not pretty.
About 40,000 Americans died in car accidents last year — that makes three years in a row where at least 40,000 people have died in traffic accidents. While deaths were down in 2018 versus 2017, the drop was a mere 1 percent. Compared to 2014, it’s a 14 percent increase.
To some, this news is puzzling. After all, an increasing number of cars have automatic forward emergency stopping, blindspot monitoring, radar cruise control, backup cameras, rear cross-traffic alert, and other cutting-edge safety technologies. Shouldn’t those be preventing accidents, which would in turn reduce fatalities?
Having used such systems, I can attest they work. Of course, there are limits to the tech, but even bigger is the fact that most cars on the road don’t have these kinds of features. That means the technologies aren’t making a huge impact, at least not yet.
In the meantime, another far more popular technology is making a tremendous and very negative impact: smartphones. Plenty of studies have shown people who text and drive are every bit as dangerous as a drunk driver, yet that doesn’t stop drivers from trying it.
Then there are infotainment systems, which often are even more distracting. Impaired driving, whether it’s from alcohol, prescription drugs, etc. are possibly a factor. But, what it comes down to is nobody knows for sure why so many people are dying in car crashes.