Traffic Safety Data May Not Tell Texans Whole Story About Collision Prevention

Oct 2014

In the United States, there has been a 41 percent reduction in the number of people dying in motor vehicle collisions since 1972 when there was a peak in motor vehicle accident fatalities. This seems like great news, and U.S. traffic authorities such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration want the public to believe that we are doing a really good job in making the roads safer and reducing deaths.

The reality, however, is that there is more to the story. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows that other countries have experienced much more significant declines in the number of motor vehicle accident deaths in the past several decades since the 1970s. In fact, at least 25 other countries have reduced their death toll more than the United States, many by very significant amounts.

Why is the U.S. Not Keeping Up in Traffic Safety?

In both Germany and the Netherlands, there has been an 81 percent reduction in the traffic accident death rate since the 1970’s while in Great Britain, there was a 76 percent reduction in people killed in collisions each year.

Why are these other countries doing so much better than the U.S. at making road conditions safer and saving lives? USA Today suggests that it is because these other countries have focused on different things than the United States. Specifically, the U.S. may be overly focused on developing and mandating new safety technologies rather than on shaping and changing driver behavior to encourage safer actions behind the wheel.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website seems to prove the point that USA Today is making. On the website, there are numerous news stories about different technologies that have been established or developed in recent years or that are under development now. For example, news stories discuss child safety seats; a website to check for vehicle problems; advances in airbags; and new rules for vehicle-to-vehicle communication. There are some stories providing safety tips to motorists but the NHTSA is clearly focusing on technology tools.

A focus on technology can be problematic because technology can fail. Recent recalls of GM motor vehicles show that vehicle technology is not perfect and that serious problems can occur when cars don’t function the way that drivers expect.

Further, much of the technology that is developed to make vehicles “safer,” actually is intended to reduce the damage that is done to the body after a crash happens. It is far better to prevent crashes in the first place, and other countries are doing a better job of that by establishing more rules to make drivers behave more safely. For example, other countries have passed stricter laws on distracted driving and have instituted more widespread radar detection and red light cameras than the U.S.

If we had been as successful at these other countries in reducing fatalities, as many as 20,000 fewer Americans would have died in vehicle collisions just in 2012 alone. Clearly, something needs to change to improve road safety for U.S. drivers and the focus needs to shift to encouraging motorists to make safer choices.

Contact a San Antonio accident lawyer at the Herrera Law Firm. Call 800-455-1054 or visit for a free case consultation. Serving San Antonio, Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, Terrell Hills and surrounding areas.

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