Better auto-safety is cracking down on road deaths

Although upwards of 90 per cent of car crashes are caused by driver error, rather than problems with the vehicle itself, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying to make our cars safer. In-fact, if you need any doubt that adding more safety systems to vehicles help keep people alive in the event of an accident, we need only look at the last few years of US road accidents, which has seen deaths fall dramatically.

WSJ recently looked at data from Experian Information Solutions, which correlated road accidents over the past few years, with the make and models of the cars involved. This was then cross referenced with the ouctome of the accident and the results are very clear: if you have an accident in a car that’s only a few years old, then you are far less likely to die than if you have an accident in a car that’s two decades old.



Looking at the data, there seems to be a real change in terms of road safety once you get into cars made after 2005, though the ones produced in the ’90s are the worst culprits of all, with nearly three times as many deaths in accidents involving those cars, versus ones involving cars from the late ’00s

This is put down to a lot more safety features in modern cars, involving technologies like stability control, which can prevent wheels locking during a skid and can help maintain control of the vehicle. Also the addition of side air bags and ones for rear passengers have made a big difference too.

“Stability control is huge,” said John Capp, director of global vehicle safety for General Motors. “It’s head and shoulders above any other technology, since the seat belt, in terms of effectiveness.”

Auto-crash deaths are falling by a few per centage everywhere, which is good news and that trend is expected to continue or perhaps even accelerate, as more people take on vehicles with automated safety features like autonomous emergency braking, smart cruise control, lane assist and obstacle detection.

The timing of this study is good news for the auto-industry, which – epsecially in the US – has taken a dip in people’s estimations as of late, following several high-profile safety concerns. The first and perhaps more impactful, was the discovery that many millions of cars with built in Takata airbags needed to be recalled due to a faulty container. That airbag container, when exposed to high-humidity, could warp and potentially explode in the event of an accident, sending shrapnel into the face and body of the driver.

Similarly so, several car seats for children have been criticised for being faulty and ineffective in recent months, so parents are being urged to be extra careful.

At least with this information to hand however, we can know that buying new is almost always safer, even if it isn’t quite so economically viable.

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    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

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