Jones & Swanson

Automobiles Becoming Safer

Throughout the years, automobiles have been one of the leading causes of injury and death throughout the world. Because so many more people are choosing to drive than ever before, the number of deaths as a result of car crashes climbs steadily. In America alone, over 30,000 lives are lost each year on interstates and roadways. Statistics such as these are what led to a demand for increased technology and safety systems in automobiles. Fortunately, these efforts seem to be paying off.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety researches driver death numbers each year. The most recent findings show that vehicles with newer technology, particularly stability control, are much safer and prevent countless deaths. In fact, numbers from 2009 through 2012 show that the death rate in these advanced technology vehicles decreased by 1/3 overall. In comparison, if these advancements not been made since 1985, an estimated 7,700 more deaths would have occurred before 2012 in vehicle accidents.

In the IIHS study, the death rate per year is calculated for various model vehicles. The industry average is 28 deaths per one million registered years for 2011 models. That rate was 48 in 2008. Perhaps most surprising is that there were nine 2011 model vehicles that had no deaths recorded of drivers. This is a first. Of those nine, six are SUVs. SUVs reported the lowest death rates of any other type, perhaps due to the requirement of electronic stability controls and their size offering more protection than smaller vehicles. The nine vehicles listed in the study with no driver deaths recorded are:

  • Audi A4 4WD
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Kia Sorento 2WD
  • Lexus RX 350 4WD
  • Mercedes-Benz GL-Class 4WD
  • Subaru Legacy 4WD
  • Toyota Highlander hybrid 4WD
  • Toyota Sequoia 4WD
  • Volvo XC90 4WD

While these numbers are inspiring, there is still much work to be done before automobiles are not a major cause of death. The IIHS study also published a list of vehicles that have high fatal crash numbers, mainly composed of small passenger vehicles. We are a long way from total elimination of traffic fatalities, but at least the efforts put forth thus far seem to be working. As technology advances, so do our vehicles’ safety standards.

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