First Autonomous Vehicle Crash Sparks Several Traffic Safety Concerns

Published on July 11th, 2016

As the economy has improved and gas prices have decreased, more American’s are getting on the road, according to NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. Likewise, traffic fatalities in the United States have rose to be 7.7% higher than last year to 32,500. 94% of crashes can be tied back to a human choice or error. According to Mark we need to focus our efforts on improving human behavior while prompting vehicle technology that protects people in crashes, and also prevents them from occurring.

The NHTSA reported that the number of miles driven in 2014 rose 3.5% from previous years. There was also a 10% increase in fatalities that involved younger drivers between the ages of 15 through 20. Manager of statistics at NSC, Ken Kolosh, claim that distracted driving is the reason for the 10% increase. In fact, the amount of drivers who are texting or visibly manipulating handheld devices rose from 0.9% to 2.2% in 2014. For those ages 16-24 this percentage jumps up to 4.8%!

Nine out of the nation’s ten regions experienced substantial increase in traffic deaths. The largest jump coming in the Pacific Northwest, in Idaho and Montana. There was an increase of 9% in traffic deaths in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. The Southeast had the next sharpest increase at 14%.

The NHTSA is focusing on ways to reduce common behaviors that lead to traffic death. These behaviors include: drunken, drugged, distracted, speeding and failure to use seat belts and safety seats. This data was all released shortly following the investigation of the first death of a driver in an vehicle operating autonomously. In May Josh Brown was killed while his Tesla Model S was operating in Autopilot mode.

Later this summer, NTSA plans to release preliminary guidelines for autonomous vehicle technology. The U.S Department of Transportation and automakers agreed in March 2016, that all new vehicles will have automatic emergency braking equipment. Also, blind-spot detection and lane departure alerts are in the works. DOT is trying to require vehicle-to-vehicle communications on new vehicles. This would help drivers to mitigate 70%-80% of crashes involving unimpaired drivers. This contrasts greatly from promoting fully autonomous transportation where occupants pay no attention to where the vehicle is going.

Read The Full Story: Detroit Free Press

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