The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration established a five-star car safety rating system in the 1990s, and it has no doubt helped automakers continue to build safer vehicles. However, one report argues that the system is becoming outdated in the face of technological advances. West Virginia drivers should know that the safety rating is based on a series of crash tests conducted in a lab with crash dummies.
Red light accidents continue to present a serious threat to highway safety in West Virginia and across the country. According to studies, as many as 800 people are killed each year in crashes linked to drivers illegally running red lights while thousands more are severely injured. Red light cameras are one method that municipalities across the country have adopted to reduce violations. The cameras monitor for cars that speed through red lights and their license plate information. Drivers in violation will often receive a ticket in the mail.
Many people in West Virginia and across the country promote the use of ignition interlock devices. These machines require people driving a car to blow into an in-car breath test before starting their vehicles. In most cases, they are installed in a car only after a person has been convicted of drunk driving. However, some people urge that the devices be used more broadly. In Sweden, all government vehicles have ignition interlock devices installed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also come out in support of wider use of the devices, noting their success in reducing repeat drunk driving incidents by 70%.
According to research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, advanced driver safety features may actually increase the risk of distracted driving. Researchers found that drivers who used lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control were twice as likely to be distracted than those who didn't use them. This is partially because drivers tend to believe that the car will automatically avoid any obstacles it may face. However, the truth is that advanced safety features only augment a driver's ability to avoid dangerous situations.
West Virginia residents should know that drowsy driving is involved in an average of 328,000 car crashes every year. AAA claims that 6,400 of these are fatal. In a recent survey of 2,003 U.S. adults, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found out just how prevalent drowsy driving is. Roughly 45% of respondents admitted that they have had to struggle to keep their eyes open behind the wheel.
Many West Virginia residents rely on prescription opioids to manage chronic pain. Some people take these painkillers temporarily for acute conditions, like a broken limb. According to a study published by JAMA Network Open, an association has been identified between deadly two-vehicle accidents and at-fault drivers who tested positive for opioid use.
West Virginia residents may be surprised to know that at least one person dies every day in the United States because of car crashes caused by distracted drivers. About 100 people are injured every day for the same reason. Automakers are trying to attack driver distraction by using artificial intelligence and visual monitoring technology.
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Drivers in West Virginia may have noticed how they are drowsier after the end of daylight saving time than before in spite of the additional hour of sleep they enjoyed. There is a good reason for this: The body has its internal clock disrupted by the change, so one will naturally feel tired while the body readjusts.
Modern vehicles have generally reduced fatalities for people traveling inside vehicles throughout West Virginia and nationwide. The latest statistics about traffic fatalities, however, show that pedestrians and bicyclists are not faring so well. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian deaths went up by 3.4% in 2018 compared to the previous year. As a result, legislation is developing in the U.S. House of Representatives and some states to address the problem.