Back in the day (well, at least my day), seat belts were the only safety feature you could find on any motor vehicle. Over the years, however, as technology continued to advance, we began to add a host of crash-avoidance options, including air bags, tire pressure monitoring systems, electronic stability control systems, blind-spot detection, lane-departure warnings, back-up sensors, and back -up cameras. In fact, many of these features are now standard, with back-up cameras becoming mandatory in all models beginning in 2018. Yet, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), there was an increase in vehicle fatalities from 2015 to 2017. Roughly 40,000 lives are lost due to vehicle accidents each year.

So, with all this technology equipped in our vehicles, why are vehicle accident fatalities on the rise again? Distracted driving has been blamed for innumerable highway deaths. Though technology has improved safety in vehicles, it has also been the reason for the increased distractions while driving. Mobile phone use while driving is the number-one driving distraction. Although most states have banned the use of hand-held devices while driving, studies have proven that the distraction is not the physical handling of the device, but, rather, the mental distraction of the actual conversation. To compound the issue, newer-model vehicles are equipped with even more advanced technology like navigation and infotainment systems. All of this has created such a problem that congress passed a resolution in 2010, marking April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Still, the majority of vehicle deaths are attributable to other driver mistakes. Speeding remains the number-one cause of vehicle fatalities, followed by unbelted passengers. So, although technology has consumed many areas of our lives and been the cause of a lot of highway deaths, it still comes down to basic human behavior. I always tell my drivers, “If you do nothing else to prevent an accident, you need to slow down, watch your speed and always, ALWAYS, wear your seatbelt.” It’s the easiest thing you can do that can be the difference between life and death.

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  • Pat Parra

    Vehicle Safety Manager

    Pat Parra is the Vehicle Safety Manager for Southland, which includes administering the vehicle policy and managing all vehicle-related claims for a fleet-size of 650+ vehicles for Southland and its subsidiaries. Pat is a certified NSC Defensive Driving instructor and had been with Southland for 29 years.

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