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Traffic safety past, present and future

It is customary in the first days of a new year to look both backwards and forwards in time. So let's take a quick look at how auto safety has improved in the recent past and what we can expect in the days ahead.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration divides auto safety into five eras. The first extends from 1950 all the up to 2000. During those years, safety features we take for granted today were introduced one by one: seatbelts, padded dashboards, airbags, antilock brakes and much more.

The technological advances have paid off, too. According to statistical analyses, the rate at which Americans are injured or killed in car crashes has been on a steady decline since the 1970s.

In the decade that began in 2000, more advanced safety features were added, including electronic stability control, lane departure warning systems, blind-spot detection and collision warnings.

Since 2010, technology has made us even safer, with features such as automatic emergency braking now available on some new vehicles, as well as automatic pedestrian braking, rear traffic alerts, rearview video systems and lane-centering technology.

The NHTSA is bullish on the future of auto tech, too. It says that in the near future (from now until 2025), we will see self-parking features, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and traffic-jam assist tech. By 2025, we will have available fully automatic vehicles that can drive themselves on the highways and streets of Lake Charles and beyond.

The federal agency says fully auto vehicles will dramatically lower the annual loss of life in motor vehicle crashes. The NHTSA points out that more than 90 percent of fatal accidents are due to human error such as drunk driving, distracted driving, drowsy driving and speeding.

The goal, it says, is to eliminate that needless loss of life and drastically lower the number of preventable injuries in car crashes. An admirable goal, to be sure. Let's hope we all move a bit closer to it over the coming year.

If you or a family member has been hurt in a crash caused by a negligent driver, contact The Johnson Firm to discuss your legal options with an experienced personal injury attorney.

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