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Zero car crash deaths no longer a utopian fantasy

The goal of eliminating driver deaths in car accidents in Georgia and elsewhere likely sounds far-fetched at first. It may bring to mind promises of self-driving cars and high-speed mass transit. Autonomous vehicles and reduced time spent on the highway could contribute, but statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that manufacturers are paving the way to zero deaths now.

The clearest example of what is possible can be seen in the data surrounding nine vehicles from the lower-priced Kia Sorento to the Audi A4. Nine vehicles registered zero "driver deaths per million registered years" over the 2009-2012 period. Many other vehicles had less than six driver deaths. The other events counted were likewise low for these vehicles, including single-vehicle rollovers and motor vehicle accidents involving multiple vehicles.

Analysis of the data with past years showed the significant improvement. Eight years prior to publishing the latest data, there were no models with zero deaths. Researchers pooled data from 1985 to 2012 to find that design improvements, both directly in vehicles and indirectly in car crash simulation technology, were a leading factor in safety gains. The chief research officer at the IIHS claimed that engineering improvements were only one part of the puzzle, however. Advances in public transportation policy and the design of roadways would also be needed to put an end to fatal car accidents.

Regardless of modern advancements, traveling by automobile brings inherent risks. Even if no deaths are involved, a negligent driver can cause property damage and lost wages even in the best of outcomes. The prevalence of texting and driving and other negligent behavior could just as easily lead to catastrophic injuries, long-term disability and a lifetime of medical expenses. In these cases, a personal injury claim may be the only means for a car accident victim to obtain meaningful compensation.

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