The final numbers for motor vehicle accidents in 2018 have come in. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), an estimated 40,000 people lost their lives due to motor vehicle crashes here in the United States. This is an astronomical number, but it is lower than recent decades thanks to improvements in safety features, stricter guidelines for driving under the influence and other regulations.
The famously safety-conscious Volvo is best known for making vehicles that protect their occupants from injury. However, the Sweden-based vehicle manufacturer will soon use 21st-century technology to protect drivers whether they like it or not.
We posted a blog story about the tragic crash of Ford Excursion stretch limo last year. The driver, 17 passengers and two pedestrians were killed when the vehicle lost control on a hill in upstate New York and went through a stop sign, across cross traffic, a parking lot where it killed the pedestrians before coming to a stop on an embankment. It was the worst transportation accident since 2005.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), someone in a motor vehicle here in the United States is injured every seven seconds. That statistic is used to get the attention of drivers and encourage them to be safe, but not enough of them are listening. The NSC estimated that there were 40,000 U.S. drivers and passengers involved in fatal crashes. This means that there were 1.24 fatalities on the road for every million miles traveled or 12.19 fatalities for every 100,000 people on the road. Here in New Mexico, the total was 387 fatalities, which is up 3 percent from 2017's 375. Numbers from state to state vary widely, but New Mexico is right in the middle.
Those rentable electric scooters are showing up in cities across the country. While there has been anecdotal evidence of injured riders seeking treatment in emergency rooms, there is a new study from Southern California that takes a quantifiable look at the risk and damage. The study finds that there were 249 visits to the ER between September 1, 2017 and August 31, 2018.
Drowsy driving has been a road safety issue since the earliest days of motor vehicles. However, a recent survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) as well as other data gathered frame the issue as one that deserves growing concern. According to the AAA, one third of all drivers surveyed admitted that they had driven at least once in the last month when they were having trouble staying awake. This piggybacks on another study that says that 27 percent of Americans claim that they have trouble sleeping.
Shockwaves went through the insurance industry when a Washington Court of Appeals determined in 2018 that insurance adjusters as well as the carrier could be named in bad faith suits. Known as the Koedalah Decision, this case went through the courts and could have national implications.
The Albuquerque City Council has approved a measure to allow ride-sharing scooter companies to operate here. The details are still being worked out, but chances are that it will happen in the not too distant future.
It seems that evidence of distracted driving is all around us. Drivers sitting at a stop light need only look at the cars around them to see other drivers staring down into their laps or brazenly holding the phone or device in plain view. Law enforcement and safety officials are not ignorant of this fact and have raised the alarm about the increased number of motor vehicle fatalities and injuries due to distracted driving.
Artificial intelligence is fueling advances in driverless vehicle technology. With thousands of cars already on the road in pilot programs here in the U.S., it would seem that the future is not now, but certainly very soon. However, while these technological advances are used to operate vehicles, they are also being used to help traffic officials and drivers predict and respond to motor vehicle accidents.