Car Safety and Technology: Help or Hinderance?
Since the beginning of the automobile, manufacturers have tirelessly sought to improve safety and lead the industry with innovative safety features. While they have produced many features that have made cars much safer to travel in, there have also been quite a few instances where an improvement causes more accidents, injuries, and deaths.
When safety belts were first rolled out in vehicles, they were only the lap belts that went straight across the lower abdomen. While initially helping to decrease the number of deaths, they also contributed to a significant increase in injuries to the lower intestines and spine. When the inertia of a traveling vehicle came to a sudden stop, the lap belts only restrained a person’s body in the lower abdomen, which led to significant pressure on the area as the unrestrained upper and lower extremities continued to propel forward. In some instances, the person was literally cut in half internally.
This problem led to the creation of the shoulder strap combined with the lap belt and proved much more effective at reducing both injuries and deaths. But even modern safety belts have contributed to injuries and fatalities from malfunctions or when a person becomes trapped in the vehicle by the safety belt. This problem led to the creation of quick-release safety belts and keychain knives to cut through the straps in an emergency.
The safety belt evolution is a prime example of how car safety technology is a bit of a catch-22 depending on the circumstances. As manufacturers strive to improve safety and convenience features, there is some trial and error to the process. Unfortunately, the error part is where things can take a big toll on human lives.
How New Technology is Helping (and Hurting) Car Safety
You’ve likely heard news stories where certain safety features installed in vehicles have proven to be the cause of accidents and are now subject to recall. As companies try to improve their economic bottom-line, it often comes at the cost of human life due to the use of cheaper materials or re-engineering a feature to cut production costs.
Perhaps one of the most prolific safety features that consistently contribute to injuries in an accident is the airbag. It takes about 0.016 seconds for an airbag to deploy. It has saved countless lives, but because of the intense pressure behind the airbag, it has also contributed to many injuries and deaths. In fact, it is one of the most commonly recalled vehicle components.
New features such as driver-assistive features are helping improve car safety significantly. But, as usual, they also have some unintended consequences. Some features, like lane-departure, blindspot, and other warning systems can startle drivers when they malfunction and trigger unexpectedly. It is also leading to more drivers relying upon these features too much. In some ways, the smart features are making us dumber drivers.
What Car Technology Features Should I Watch Out For?
New vehicle models with advanced computer systems are constantly working out bugs and kinks at the expense of the drivers who own these vehicles. One hot-button issue surrounding these new technologies are virtual or keyless ignition systems. While they offer a lot of conveniences, they have also contributed to carbon monoxide deaths when the driver leaves the vehicle and doesn’t realize it is still running. Another issue with this type of system is the driver forgets to put the vehicle into “park” and the vehicle begins to roll away.
Another safety feature that is leading to distracted drivers is the rise of the cabin camera. It is a camera that gives the driver a 360-degree view of the interior of the vehicle, allowing parents to see their children in the backseat. While this helps with child safety, it can also be a major distraction when the kids are misbehaving and the driver takes their eyes off the road to look at the display screen.
With the growing popularity of more autonomous features, such as those available in Tesla vehicles, we are sure to see more instances where either the failure of technology or the human reliance upon the technology contributes to accidents. Some of these features are lulling drivers into a false sense of security, leading them to engage in distracted driving behaviors such as texting and driving.
Have you been injured in an auto accident where the driver failed to pay attention to the road because of driver-assistive or autonomous features? Or, have you experienced an injury due to defective car safety features? We’re here to help! Contact us today online or call (813) 774-3341 for a free and confidential phone consultation to discuss your case.