New Tech for Cars Helps Save Lives

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According to a recent study performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, over the last three years, the chances of a driver dying in a crash in a late-model car or light truck has decreased by more than a third. Additionally, nine car models recorded zero deaths per million registered vehicles.

The Study

The study examined fatalities that occurred in accidents involving 2011 model year vehicles and compared them to 2008 through 2009 models. It also examined how many fatalities occurred in particular models over the course of a year, expressed as a rate per million registered vehicle years.

Through the 2012 calendar year there were an average of 28 driver deaths per million registered vehicles. Which is down from the 48 deaths recorded for models 2008 through 2009.

David Zuby, chief research officer at the institute, called it “a huge improvement.”

Reasons for Reduced Number of Car Accidents

According the Institute, this reduction in risk could be attributed to either improved vehicle design and safety technology, but also the fact that few people might be driving as a result of a weaker economy. Additionally, electronic stability control in newer cars has lessened the risk of roll-over crashes. And side air bags, as well as structural changes to vehicles have been helping keep people safer.

Nine Car Models with Zero Death Rates

The nine models that showed zero death rates were:

  • Audi A4
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Kia Sorento
  • Lexus RX 350
  • Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Toyota Sequoia
  • Volvo XC90

New Policies for Car Safety

The declining rates are encouraging, especially in a time when safety advocates in the U.S. and around the world have set a goal to eliminate motor vehicle deaths. In 1997 Sweden’s parliament adopted a “Vision Zero” policy, with the goal of completely eliminating deaths caused by car accidents. New York City has adopted a similar policy. The Governors Highway Safety Association in the U.S. issued a plan “Toward Zero Deaths” in 2009.

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