Kentucky drivers who wear their seat belts, prioritize safety and have safety technology in their vehicles may help make roads safer in the years ahead. According to the Road to Zero Coalition, all of these elements could contribute toward eliminating traffic deaths by 2050. In the meantime, however, traffic fatalities are actually rising. Nearly 37,500 people died on American roads in 2016.
While seat belt use is already at 90 percent, half of the people who are killed in traffic accidents do not wear them. Improving seat belt compliance could be one of the simplest ways to lower the death rate. The coalition also hopes for a cultural shift toward putting safety first and reducing behaviors such as speeding, driving under the influence and distracted driving.
Even though commercially available autonomous cars are still many years away, safety technology can have a significant effect on fatalities. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, one of the coalition members, found that if all large trucks had blind spot detection, stability, lane departure warning and forward-collision warning and mitigation systems, a quarter of crashes could be prevented or made less severe. In 2016, 4,317 fatalities involved large trucks. The IIHS has also pushed for rear and side underride guards to protect passenger vehicles from going under trucks in accidents.
Accidents involving large trucks can be devastating for other road users. The equipment a truck is carrying could make the situation even more hazardous. When a motorist suffers an injury as a result of a trucking company or driver's negligence, they might be entitled to compensation that covers medical expenses, lost wages and more. An attorney could help a victim file a lawsuit or negotiate a settlement.