Recently, the United States Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a preview of 2019 data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and preliminary estimates for the first half of 2020 which show a continued annual decline in traffic deaths in comparison to prior years. In 2019, 36,096 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents on United States roadways. This represents a 2% decrease from the reported 36,835 fatalities in 2018. This marks the third consecutive year that motor vehicle fatalities declined.
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In 2018, Elaine Herzberg, then 49 years old, was hit by a car as she wheeled her bicycle across the road. An investigation revealed that the car's safety driver, Ms. Vasquez, had been watching an episode of the television show The Voice at the time of the accident. At the time, Uber was testing their self-driving technology.
A thirty-one-year-old man died in San Antonio, Texas on September 15, 2020 after an 18-wheeler failed to stop at an access road intersection, plowing into the young man's Honda Civic and propelling it into oncoming traffic. The 18-wheeler driver later told investigators his brakes failed.
The roads in Texas, specifically Houston, Texas, have deteriorated to the point of constituting a driving hazard to Texas drivers. According to a study by CoPilot, nearly one-third of Houston roads, 28.6 percent, are in poor condition. 28.6 percent is worse than the national average of 26.4 percent. Moreover, 7.9 percent of Houston's freeways and interstates are in poor condition, and 40.8 percent of Houston's arterial roadways are in poor condition. These statistics establish that Houston roads are some of the poorest maintained roads in America.
Kristian Edwards was driving her Model 3 Tesla when she was struck by another vehicle. It caused her to slam into the guardrail on the interstate highway. None of the Tesla's airbags deployed. Mrs. Edwards, a public health professor at George Washington University in Washington, suffered major injuries, including head trauma and brain damage. Mrs. Edwards was wearing her seat belt; her son was in the back seat and also sustained injuries. Suit was filed against Tesla. The family is seeking to be compensated for medical bills, Mrs. Edwards' loss of earning capacity, and her pain and suffering.
It's no surprise that with a decrease in traffic on the road, there are drivers that see this as an opportunity to drive faster. But what is surprising is the rate of speed these cars are going and the amount of speed-related deaths that are occurring on the road. Although on an 80-day comparative period, from this year and the last, the amount of reported crashes had fallen 40.4 percent, there was only a 11.3 percent decrease in fatal crashes.
On June 25, 2020, a Maryland woman who suffered traumatic brain injuries in a 2019 accident sued Tesla Inc. in California alleging it manufactured an unsafe Model 3 vehicle with airbags that didn't properly deploy. The suit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court in California where Tesla's headquarters is located.
Do self-driving cars really prevent accidents from occurring on the road? Most people would think they would due to the multiple technological advances such as the 360-degree sensors or the self-parking feature. But according to a study done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), autonomous vehicles are not the answer to eliminating vehicular accidents. The IIHS examined 5,000 crashes and determined that self-driving cars are only capable of preventing one third of automobile accidents. The Institute found certain driving mistakes such as misjudging speeds of other vehicles or high speeds on dangerous roads cannot be prevented from the current state of autonomous vehicles.
According to a recent report by The National Safety Council, preliminary traffic fatality data from March 2020 shows that as Americans began driving less and covering fewer miles, the emptier roads became more lethal. Researchers compiled traffic fatality data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Researchers reported an eight percent decrease in the overall number of fatalities in March 2020 compared to March 2019. The number of miles driven also decreased by 18.6 percent compared to the previous year. However, the death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven was 1.22 in March, up from 1.07 in March 2019. This represents a 14 percent increase in fatality rates per miles driven in March compared to March 2019.