Since the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act empowered the federal government to be proactive regarding safety standards for vehicles and roadways, important legislation has been passed. Most people would probably agree that everything from break-away poles and guardrails to seat belts and air bags have significantly improved motor safety. Mandatory seat belts and child safety seats, in particular, have substantially reduced fatalities. The CDC estimates that seat belt use alone reduces fatalities and serious injuries by nearly half.1
Vehicle design, improved roadways and legislation continue to make significant strides in improving pedestrian, bike and vehicle safety. In the last ten years, some vehicle design elements are of particular note. A blind-spot warning system, for example, and a pedestrian detector that stops a car automatically if a pedestrian is detected are two Volvo innovations. The pedestrian detector works up to 30 mph, making it effective for driveways, parking lots, school zones and residential areas.2
There are other interesting innovations of the past ten years that you might find interesting. Check out this infographic for details.
Of course there is always more to be done, and other nations are ahead of the curve regarding some safety concerns. The U.K., for example, instituted mandatory bike helmet legislation in 2004.3
In addition, all the design elements and safety legislation in the world can’t replace common sense, courtesy and better attention. We ask all our friends and neighbors to slow down, stay off the phone, take an extra look at intersections, and give people plenty of room, whether in vehicles, on bikes or on foot.
Together, we can add substantially to safety on our shared roadways.