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Auto safety features help cut driver deaths

Drivers in West Virginia are always navigating dangers whenever they are on the road. From slippery roadways with ice, rain or leaves to dealing with dangerous, drunk or distracted drivers, there are an array of hazards that can pose a threat to passengers and drivers. At the same time, there is some positive news, because the chances of dying in a car accident involving a late-model car have declined dramatically due to improved technology and extensive safety features.

Among cars and passenger vehicles produced in 2011, nine vehicles had driver death rates of zero due to car accidents, according to a study produced by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. There are other cars with larger death rates, however, and three have rates greater than 100 per million registered vehicle years. From 1993 to 2006, improved vehicle design, including changed types and added safety features, contributed to the decline in risk.

Changes in the economy also seem to have contributed to the decreasing deaths during that time, although researchers estimated that in 2012, there were 7,700 fewer driver deaths than there would have been if vehicles still had 1985 technology. Driver deaths were down for 2011 models from 2008 cars, illustrating the continued progress of safety features and other developments. Crash test performance has also improved, noted researchers, and these statistics bear out the real-world reflection of those changes.

Of course, improving safety features is critical to protecting drivers and passengers, not only from death but also severe personal injury. However, technology cannot always protect people from the risks created by drunk drivers, distracted drivers or other dangerous drivers on the roadways. People who have been injured through no fault of their own in an auto accident may benefit from speaking with a personal injury lawyer to see how they can pursue compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

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