West Virginia residents who follow politics might not be familiar with Ann Day but have probably heard of her sister, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The Day family and others in Arizona are mourning the loss of former state senator Ann Day after she was killed in a motor vehicle accident May 7.
West Virginia residents may be aware that some bold claims have been made about the impact that autonomous vehicle technology and self-driving cars will have on road safety. A senior Volvo executive recently said that the Swedish car maker hopes to virtually eliminate fatalities in its vehicles by 2020, and companies like Tesla and Google point to accident statistics revealing that the vast majority of auto crashes involve human error of one sort or another.
Issues such as texting and driving have resulted in a major movement to minimize the use of smartphones while on the roads in West Virginia and across the nation. However, some of the technologies that have been developed to facilitate safer communications on the road do not necessarily eliminate distractions. The fact that these technologies have been incorporated into the dashboards of many vehicles causes numerous drivers to believe that their use is safe. However, these technologies are targeted more at the convenience of the driver than at safety.
A broad agreement among automobile manufacturers may lead to automatic braking systems being standard for cars being sold in West Virginia by the year 2022. The terms have already reached accord among 10 of the largest manufacturers in the American market, and the plan is to expand the agreement until it covers 99 percent of all light vehicles being sold.
By looking at police-reported rear-end crash data from 2010 to 2014 across 22 states, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has determined that if all cars in West Virginia and nationwide had autobrake systems in 2013, there would have been at least 700,000 fewer of those types of incidents. The study found that there was an average reduction in rear-end crashes of around 40 percent in cars with an autobrake system and around 23 percent if the vehicle only had a forward collision warning system.
Motorists who routinely travel West Virginia's iconic mountain highways may be dismayed to learn that in the first nine months of 2015, U.S. traffic deaths rose after numerous years of improvement. While the number of fatal accidents had dropped a total of 22 percent from 2000 to 2014 and decreased 1.4 percent in 2014 from the prior year, 2015 saw a significant reversal in the trend. In the first nine months of the year, approximately 26,000 people perished in wrecks, which represented an increase of 9.3 percent compared to the number of deaths during the same time frame in 2013.
West Virginia motorists may know that there are a number of companies that are working to create autonomous vehicles, with Google being one of the most prominent. Technologies are increasingly allowing computer systems in cars to handle driving, but organizations seeking to develop this technology have frequently run into problems because laws require a human being as the driver.
Some West Virginia residents may have heard about an accident in New Jersey involving an SUV and a small-sized school bus that left one dead and several injured. The collision took place during the morning hours of Feb. 4 in Bridgeton.
West Virginia Volvo drivers may be pleased to learn that the company has announced that by 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in their cars. The automaker plans to use a combination of existing safety technology and technology being developed for driverless cars to achieve this.
In 2016, the National Transportation Safety Board says that it wants to see a reduction in the number of fatigue-related crashes in America. It was one of 10 issues that were part of its Most Wanted list that was released on Jan. 13. Of those 10 priorities for the new year, four of them were also part of the list in 2015.