Over 1 million people worldwide die as a result of car accidents each year. Even with licensing and strict regulation of the roadways, accidents are still common. Most are due to human error, but many are also due to mechanical problems with the vehicles themselves or weather issues affecting the roadways. So many factors go into traveling safely. Well-marked street signs, attentive driving, and fully functional cars are all necessary ingredients that are oftentimes lacking. Here is a brief overview of the reasons why car accidents are still such a major problem today.
Alert systems and other technologies just can’t make up for the fact that human reaction times are not perfect. There can be a delay period of up to 2.3 seconds from the moment a driver realizes a hazard to the time he or she actually applies the brakes. Add to that delay inattentive driving, like texting while driving, speeding, and aggressive driving, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Injuries Are Almost Always Severe
Even with seatbelts, the common injuries associated with car accidents can be life-altering. Unlike bicycling or skating, for example, which tend to take place at lower speeds and involve lighter equipment, car crashes occur at higher speeds and involve thousands of pounds of heavy metals colliding in space. Safety equipment, like rollover cages and airbags, can mitigate the damage, but it is impossible to completely buffer against the sheer energy involved in such huge impacts. Even collisions that happen at low speeds and are considered low impact can lead to lasting injuries.
Technology: A Double-Edged Sword
Certainly, technology has helped avert catastrophic accidents in many circumstances. Unfortunately, smartphones have emerged as a threat in and of themselves, distracting drivers with funny memes and text conversations with friends while driving. Take a look around in traffic, and you’ll likely notice one or more drivers in the lanes next to you with their eyes off the road. Hands-free laws requiring drivers to look at the road have had some degree of success, but the problem of distracted driving persists.
At some point in the future, artificial intelligence may take over the role of driving. Proponents of this technology say that it will eliminate the human-error component of driving. This may be true, but we may discover dangers with AI-driven vehicles that we haven’t considered yet. In any case, a reduction of deaths from traffic accidents will be welcomed by people and their governments around the world.