Distracted driving is a very serious issue in Missouri and nationwide. One of the types of accidents that can result when a person is behind the wheel and using a cellphone is a rear-end crash. At least 547,000 injuries and 1,705 deaths in 2012 were attributed to rear-end accidents, 87 percent of which might have been avoided if the vehicles involved were outfitted with preventive technologies such as automatic braking. The potential for improving safety with this technology is significant, and a recent agreement among automakers will provide for the incorporation of automatic braking in approximately 99 percent of light vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2022.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that this agreement will make some exceptions for manufacturers dealing with vehicles that have special technical issues like manual transmissions. However, the use of an agreement means that the technology will be available to motorists on a large scale in a shorter period of time than with a legally binding rule. Other experts indicate that up to one of every five car accidents could be prevented with this safety technology in place.
A former NHTSA official has expressed concern because the agreement is not legally binding. This individual suggests that a rule with legal requirements would be a preferred approach to advancing this technology's use because there would be legal consequences for failure to comply. With an agreement, there may not be an ability to enforce compliance.
While safety technologies can complement a driver's efforts to avoid accidents, driver error is still a serious concern on the road. An accident could be caused by misjudging distances, poor driving conditions or reckless driving. Accident investigations typically aid in identifying the factors contributing to an incident, and a personal injury attorney might use this and other evidence as the basis for a lawsuit filed by an injured victim against the motorist who caused the crash.