Despite Advances in Technology, Cars Still “Death Machines”

car dashboardBuying a new car today requires a lot of research, not just to review safety scores and dependability, but to choose from the myriad of safety options and technology that are available. A number of safety features now come standard when purchasing a new vehicle, such as back-up cameras required in all new vehicles effective May 2018, but other options will bump up the sticker price quite a bit.  While some auto buyers won’t mind the price jump if they feel they are getting the most advanced safety and technology features out there, other buyers will be deterred by the costly options. We explained how a number of these features work in a two-part Tapalian Law Rhode Island Accident Lawyer blog, Driver Assistance Technologies- Sorting Through the Options Part 1 and Part 2.

With all of the cutting-edge safety technologies available, some critics still think not enough is being done to keep drivers and pedestrians safe from car accidents. The goal should be “fewer, not smarter, cars”, reports opinion writer Allison Arieff in a recent New York Times article, because despite all of the latest cutting-edge features available in today’s new vehicles, far too many fatal car accidents and serious injuries are still happening.

Increase in Pedestrian Deaths

Despite over $80 billion spent on “smart”, connected, and autonomous vehicles, over 6,000 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. in 2018 alone. Pedestrians accounted for over 25% of Rhode Island traffic fatalities in 2017.  Some say safety measures, like radio-frequency tags that emit a signal that can be detected by cars, should be taken by pedestrians and bicyclists. Is this only putting the onus on pedestrians to keep away from cars, and not the other way around? As a RI personal injury lawyer, Attorney David Tapalian knows that safety goes both ways and the responsibility must be shared by both drivers and pedestrians. Not only do drivers need to do their part by staying focused and aware, but pedestrians should also take every measure they can to be more visible to drivers such as wearing bright or reflective clothing, and following traffic rules such as using crosswalks.

Why is New Vehicle Technology Not Making Driving Safer?

Over 3,000 people were killed in car crashes in 2017 caused by distracted driving. The majority of driver distractions are caused by cell phone use, texting and driving, and other technology. Ironically, in-vehicle technology meant to improve safety can be a huge distraction to motor vehicle operators. Bigger, and more complex, dashboards compete for driver’s attention, taking it away from the road. The popularity of bigger vehicles, specifically sports utility vehicles, has led to a huge increase in single-vehicle pedestrian deaths involving SUV’s, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Due to an SUV having a higher front end than the average car, it is twice as likely than a car is to kill a walker, runner, bicyclist, or child.

What Are Some Solutions?

There is no quick or easy solution to reduce the number of deadly car accidents. However, Ms. Arieff offers up some potential solutions, first of which is that we all drive less. Not only will this lessen environmental pollution, but it will also lessen the number of auto accident fatalities and injuries. Other ideas she proffers are reducing speed limits, eradicating right turns on red, and adding protected bicycle lanes. As a RI personal injury attorney, David Tapalian always urges drivers to take the simple step to put down their phone and avoid unnecessary technology while driving to avoid a senseless accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposal in 2018 called the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule. Its focus is to reduce the “national automobile fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards”, make newer, safer cars more affordable, and ultimately reduce car accident related injuries and save up to 1,000 lives annually. Just last month, the first steps were taken towards finalizing the proposal.

Contact Tapalian Law if You Have Been Injured in a Rhode Island Car Accident

Although in many cases, vehicle technology is a useful tool to prevent car accident injuries and fatalities, in some cases it may worsen the distraction to drivers. Safety technology is never a substitute for an attentive, focused driver or following safe driving practices and should not be relied on as such. If you have been injured in a car accident in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, seek the advice of experienced RI & MA Personal Injury Attorney David Tapalian and his skilled legal staff at Tapalian Law. With offices in Providence, RI, Warwick, RI, and Seekonk, MA, we are easily accessible.  For a free consultation of your car accident or personal injury case, contact our Providence office today at


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